The annoying customer spectrum


There have been several instances in my career where I have asked the question, “Who is the customer?” If you have any business sense, this should seem like a normal question. In the tech industry, this is often the root of where product begins. However, it blows my mind how often people struggle with answering this question.

The most common answer I get to this question is individuals describing what I call the Customer Spectrum. This is the entire spectrum of a market. For example, I have heard something along the lines of, “We are targeting everyone who has this problem, from small teams to extremely large enterprises.” Yes, small teams and enterprises might have similar pain points but their needs are fundamentally different. Therefore, the product, which is a solution to their pain point, should and usually *needs* to be different. I anticipate that this is the number one reason products are overly complicated and diluted. This seems equally prevalent in people with little experience to even ones high up on the corporate ladder.

To create quality products you need to know your customer intimately. As with any relationship, if your customer knows that you are giving someone else more attention the relationship will go south. Reach out and talk to them, get to know them and understand their pain points. If you or your leadership has a hard time defining a persona this should be a red flag and you should seriously question what you are building!


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2 Responses to “The annoying customer spectrum

  • Good stuff. Out of curiosity, who is the customer of hololense?

    • You bring up a great point with this question! Building hardware is a little different than building applications. It is closer to building a platform which lights up and enables user experiences. I would argue that when you are building hardware it is equally important to know what experiences you are lighting up and to know who the customers are of these experiences. This is a little more tricky since I have often seen hardware teams a little more disconnected from the users since there are often experience teams in between. I believe that the more successful hardware teams are the ones that are super customer focused and do not allow this to be an excuse. I have had a little easier time since I have been on the experience side and often have been working alongside our customers directly to build the experiences.

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