It suddenly struck me today how much the phrase, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is customer-centric. Your current customers, particularly if they are repeat buyers, are a valuable asset. Handled right, they can represent significant future potential profits.
The incident that triggered the thought was that my news feed aggregator service, Bloglines, added a new look and functionality. To each news feed item, it now adds at the right-hand end a column of possible related search terms you might wish to explore with Ask. The problem it creates is that I wish to see as many news items on the screen line-by-line as I can. This allows me to scan many more items and I rely on the Titles to determine whether they need to be perused. Now with each item taking up a space five times as high I have only one fifth of the productivity. You might assume that there would be a button that would allow me to switch off this unwanted extra service. Not so. It seems impossible to return to the classic simple look.
I tried to get some information on a way to correct the situation via Twitter. Someone with the username Bloglines did suggest I use a Firefox Addon to change the style. It was partially successful but I never managed to get back to the original simplicity. Reluctantly I have now switched to Google Reader, which with a little manipulation gives me close to what I want. I have been a long time Bloglines user and it is only with the greatest reluctance that I made the switch.
The counter view on these matters was one that Tom Peters suggested, and there is even a book about it now. If it Ain’t Broke…Break It!: And Other Unconventional Wisdom for a Changing Business World (Paperback) by Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Patler.
Being product directed is often said to be the reverse of being customer centric and this really sums it up. Microsoft is an extreme example of this ‘Break It’ approach with its constant upgrades. Overall they may make more money this way, but they leave behind them a trail of disgruntled customers. When something does exactly what the customer wants, it takes a lot to have them accept that they need the product or service to be changed. If it ain’t broke, please don’t fix it.
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