Creativity-Innovation Book Reflections

Is the customer, always right?

Is the customer, always right?

We have heard the adage that the “customer is always right “since our first day in the job market. Many of us know without a shadow of a doubt that the customer is usually wrong.  In jobs to be done mentality, the customer is the person that we want to cater to, but that does not mean that they know what they want. The customer might want a product revision that is quicker, lighter, stronger, or cheaper, but is this what the customer needs or is a new product in order?

All too often the customer doesn’t want to fire a product that doesn’t meet their needs unless there is a better product being offered (Christensen et al., 2016, pg. 100). The customer thinks that they want a product to be better and that would fill the job to be done, but in all actuality, the job isn’t being met and needs to be fired. The question that businesses need to ask is how can jobs to be done be measured? What formula or matrix can calculate if the job is being done, or simply meeting just enough to keep the job?

The fastest and most inaccurate way of measuring is “Big Hire”.  The big hire is when a customer buys the product to do a job. A business can track how many sales that a product has, but that is not going to give data to whether the product is doing the job. Sometimes a product can be purchased with high hope yet delivers low results. The true test is if the customer rehires or “Little Hire” the product repeatedly.

The customer may not be right if they steer the business in the direction that the failure to have little hires is that the product could be improved. Businesses spend a large amount of research and development to improve the product to meet customers’ demands, and many times the product does meet the customers’ expectations. This is when the business needs to look at jobs to be done and ask what kind of new product could be developed that would be rehired instead of being shelved.

Christensen, C., Hall, T., Dillon, K. and Duncan, D. (2016). Competing against luck. New York: HarperBusiness.

2 thoughts on “Creativity-Innovation Book Reflections

  1. I hadn’t actually thought about products as being “hires” before this. But you make a compelling argument for this comparison. A “big hire” would be when we buy a product and push it into production doing something we think it will work for. We spend so much time adjusting to how that product works that we end up changing our workflows around the product. However, if we were to think of it as a “little hire” and just drop it into production as is, could we be more productive? If the “little hire” doesn’t work out the way we anticipated, we could always “fire” it and hire something else for the next batch. That is indeed an interesting way to think about it. If I am buying a cleaning spray for my oven and it doesn’t work, I’m not going to buy that spray again. I’m certainly not going to go buy a new stove that will work with that cleaning spray. Yet that does tend to be how we think of products in a business environment. Wow. That is actually crazy.


  2. I still find the idea of products being hired humorous. I envision soap bottles turning in applications to me when I walk down the grocery store. I think this post shows why retailers are keen to get customers to sign up for their loyalty rewards. Getting the insight of what a customer buys once is great, but when a retailer notices customers coming back for items multiple times then can use that information to advertise that product more, or give it more shelf space.


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