To improve customer perception of our products and services we often ask the customer directly – what do you want?  

There are many common sources of such feedback: focus groups, surveys, call-backs, etc.

Most often these actions are very biased and therefore misplaced.

  • Focus groups with ‘pre-selected’ customers give responses biased in favor of persons doing the selection.
  • Surveys get replies from people who ‘like’ surveys – i.e. more bias.
  • Call-backs typically reach the complainers – did I hear bias.
  • Etc.
So how do you get unbiased feedback?   You can’t.   By definition human feedback is biased.  

Customer feedback should be reserved for addressing specific narrow issues: complaints, failures, accidents, etc.  

If you want broadband quality improvement you go to the experts – Deming, Juran, Crosby, Feigenbaum, Ishikawa, Garvin, Taguchi, etc.   All mention customers in passing, but get down to business with “PRODUCT”: Zero Defects, Six Sigma, quality circles, TQM, testable/tested requirements, ‘ilities, SPC/mature processes, focused metrics, trained workers, and continuous-continuous improvement.

Biased customer feedback leads to gimmicks, fads, crazes, etc., which move markets in the short-term.   Good, value-priced products survive and win long-term.

To summarize, we are faced with the old dilemma: opinion vs. measurement.   Customers provide opinion.    Product needs can be identified and measured only through rigorous/objective analysis.