Should I listen to my customers' feature requests?


Every now and then I read that you should never listen to the feature requests of your users. Then again sometimes I read "especially in the first stages always listen to your customers" I don't quite know what strategy I should use! I have heard of people who discard every idea and only implement them if they stumbled upon one feature 50 or some relatively high number.

What do you guys do? Listen to your customers, ignore them completely or only listen if the request is so high that it's stupid not to implement it. When ignoring them do you just not read them?

Customers Features

asked Oct 10 '09 at 18:02
158 points

9 Answers


The high-risk option: You think you're the next Steve Jobs, and you know better than everyone else. Build to your vision regardless of what people are asking for (they not visionaries like you), and eventually you'll turn out to be right. There's a 99.999% chance that you're not the next Steve Jobs of course, and then you'll lose. Still, on the 0.001% chance that you are, it'll be a shame if you didn't bring the next iMac/iPod/iPhone to the world.

The less high-risk option (still high risk, because startups always are): listen to your customers. They know what they need better than you do. Your business lives or dies on the question of whether you can serve customers' needs. If you don't listen, it's you who's stupid, not them...

answered Oct 10 '09 at 18:18
Elad Kehat
441 points


You need to listen to your customers. But you shouldn't necessarily do exactly what they ask you to do.

After you listen to them, start asking questions to try to understand the problem that your customers need to solve. Listen to their answers and keep asking as many questions as you need to ensure that you really understand their needs.

In my experience, customers try to express their needs by asking you to modify your product in the way that they believe will help them.

The problem is that they aren't always experts on how your product works and how others may use your products to solve a similar problem. By understanding the problems your customers are trying to solve, you can best decide how (or if) your product can help them.

So, yes--listen--but also ask a lot of questions and work with your customers to help solve a problem. (Incidentally, I love to read the Pragmatic Marketing website for insights on how to listen to your customers and how to determine what features to incorporate into your products.)

answered Oct 14 '09 at 02:56
Del Putnam
1,031 points


Your best bet is to understand your customers pain. They may tell you one thing yet be worried about something completely different. Ask questions, get to know their business and then listen to what they have to say. Customers are not stupid -- they are just solving the problems in front of them. Your job is to help them.

answered Oct 14 '09 at 03:12
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


Always hear your customers. It is rude not to, and its their money that keeps you in business.

As for listening (rather then just hearing), it depends on what they say. There is some value in the wisdom of the crowds, and you get learn a lot from your customers, but you should not do everything they suggest.

Your customers are probably your best source for breakthrough innovations, since they know what they are willing to pay for more then anyone else (its their buck). The trick is to figure out what is important without loosing focus on other important things.

I would never assume that my customers are stupid, and I would never let them know I think that of them if I come to the conclusion that they in fact are.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 19:08
Ron Ga
2,181 points


Everyone should listen to their customer requests in the initial days but also you need to take average of how many customers are on the same line.........................because each customer may have different set of feautures in their mind so you need to list all the features from all the customers and see what majority customers are asking for and analyse them and then implement them.

At the same time look at the features of minority customers and help them to solve the issues or atleast tell them why they cant get their features done at this point of time and help them solving their problems even though you did not listen to them

answered Oct 29 '11 at 13:22
Bhanu Prasad
209 points


A little of both. In the beginning you need to go with your vision and not get distracted by customer requests (which are frequently bad). As you get going, it will become obvious which customer requests make sense.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 18:32
379 points


You should always listen to your customers and potential customers. Possibly they will point you to far more lucrative possibilities.

It is the Sirens and the Trolls you need to ignore...

answered Oct 10 '09 at 18:32
Mark Stephens
976 points


Every customer has a different background, experience so the new feature request from customer A might have no value for any other customer and it might not fit into your product vision. Its up to you to decide if it makes your product more valuable.

On the other side, if a lot of your customers requesting more or less the same feature it might be you who is missing an essential improvement of your product.

What i think is important, every customer who shows that connection with your product/company should be respected and should know that their feedback is welcome.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 18:43
21 points


I would go with a bit of both. If what they are asking for doesn't make sense (to you) - go back to them. Start up's these days pride themselves on 2-way conversation which improves the overall service and experience. Use this channel to confirm what they are after and keep the majority happy.

answered Oct 10 '09 at 19:13
470 points

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