The most humbling way to know whether you’re building a great product is to get direct feedback. Try whatever you’re doing from the customer’s point of view. Now, observe the customer doing it with your mouth closed and your ears open. In my experience, I never fail to learn something important when I listen to what customers have to say.
Ideas are awesome. And ideas usually don’t survive first contact with the customer. Iterating on prototypes lets you find out what the customer is thinking and how they react to the ideas that you have.
Usability sessions are an excellent way to get this feedback. Try a site like Usabilla to record a session remotely and walk a consumer through a process. This is a valuable because the feedback is not contingent on what you say – you only get to observe.
Building great products requires more than usability testing, of course. You need to have a great team focused tightly on a customer and relish the idea of solving her problem and taking away her pain and replacing it with delight. And you have to do that without the customer feeling like they’ve been manipulated.
When you talk to consumers in person, things are a bit different. When you deliver a 30 second demo or a longer demo, you share the key differentiators and benefits of your idea, and see immediate non-verbal feedback. This shows you when you’ve “got it” and when you’re missing the mark.
In email or chat, you don’t get the benefit of seeing the customer’s face. The customer will appreciate a quick and accurate response. Start by responding as fast as you can, and if you don’t know the answer, say so. If you can’t solve the problem and will let the customer know when it’s going to be solved, do so. And if it’s unlikely that you’ll ever solve the problem, please say so.
You can find 47 other ways to improve the customer experience here.