Your customers are lying

Your Customers Are Lying To You…Learn From Them

Lies, damned lies…and your customers. If you’ve ever watched an episode of House, M.D. then chances are good that you’ve heard Hugh Laurie’s character Gregory House tell his partners that “everybody lies”. The same is true in business.

Whether they mean to fudge the truth or not, your customers are lying to you every day. We’re not passing judgement here. A lot of the times your customers are lying with the best intentions. Sometimes it’s to avoid hurting feelings, other times it’s because their real objection is harder to explain. But as someone building products, two things are most definitely true:

  1. Every lie a customer tells you is based on an objection.
  2. Every objection is a chance for you to improve your product.

Let’s examine a few of the common lies that customers are telling you, and then the reasons that they’re being told.

“Your Price is Too High”

This is a common statement heard by SaaS companies around the world. But the customer who is telling you this is already convinced that your product is good or they wouldn’t be there. If they’re spending extra time and effort to tell you about your pricing, what they’re really telling you is something much deeper.

Almost without fail, a pricing objection is actually an inquiry. The customer wants to know more about the features and benefits of your product in order to help them justify the price. You’ve already piqued their interest and they’re nibbling at the hook. If you spend time to show concrete examples of the value of your product, you’ll earn their business.

Sales coach Grant Cardone has a lovely saying that every product owner should tattoo onto their brain: “When value exceeds price, price is no longer the issue”.

“I’d Buy If It Did _____”

We’ve talked about this one before, but it’s worth revisiting. How many times has a customer told you that your product is perfect, except that it’s missing one feature that’s keeping them from buying it? You can chase that unicorn all you want, but being constantly reactive is far less effective for long-term success than being able to execute on a plan.

So what’s the customer who raises this objection really saying? Chances are that they’re simply not sold enough on the rest of the benefits that your product can give them. If you’re playing your cards right, then you’re already beating your competition on the value that your product can add. If you’re not, then the customer isn’t going to simply hand you money because they like you. More often than not, the customer who promises to buy if ____ happens will never end up parting with a cent.

“I’ve Written You Multiple Times”

It’s common practice for an upset customer to try to build urgency by fudging the truth a bit. They’re betting on you not having a record of your past communications with them in hopes that you’ll address their problem faster.

What you can learn from this is simply a matter of best practices. Find a CRM system that lets you keep track of your customer interactions. Take it a step further and find one that gives you a complete picture of that customer, including their social profiles (FullContact customers have built a few great options). What’s their mindset on social? What are they talking about? Is that frustration with you and your product being vented publicly? If you’re using the right tools, you’ll know.

If the customer has indeed contacted you multiple times then you need to dig deeper and find out what’s causing that communication breakdown. Is there a real problem that you’re ignoring? If they’ve not emailed multiple times about the same problem, it’s still your responsibility to defuse the situation. Start with an apology and then find out how you can make it right.

“It Doesn’t Work”

OK, in all fairness, before you decide that this is a lie you need to make sure that the product really does work. If you’re certain that everything is functioning as intended, it’s time to get your house in order.

The fact behind this falsehood is that the user simply doesn’t understand how something works. Maybe they expected a different result entirely. This is a great time to step back and reassess your onboarding and tutorials. Are you seeing this complaint a lot, and it appears to be unfounded? Then chances are that you’ve done a crappy job of explaining what things do and how they do it. As a product owner, it’s your job to make sure that you’re communicating value. If something doesn’t work as expected, then there’s no value to be found.


Examine, Assess, Act

These are just four examples, but there are almost certainly many more. As a product owner the onus falls upon you to find the truth. As we said at the start, every objection presents an opportunity. When they come, it’s time for you to do an examination to find the root cause, assess whether or not it’s a fringe case and worth pursuing and then act accordingly.

While taking care to not chase the unicorn of everything to everyone, it’s ultimately up to you to ask the right questions and make sure that your users’ concerns are being addressed. It’s a delicate balance, but one that every product owner has to find.

Images: The Far Side

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