Customers: the Echo Chamber Antidote

October, 2012

I heard a news story (quite) a while ago about how hospitals were using robots more and more to assist with surgeries. This isn’t some sort of futuristic Asimov style robot, more like 3D goggles and remote control of laparoscopic tools. Anyway, the interesting part was that the doctors were convinced that their hospital had to have the latest robot.

If you don’t have it, I think it would be a really big problem, but I think everyone just assumes you have it because why wouldn’t you? You know, it’s like having blood or beds or lights in your OR now. You have to have a robot.

This is the echo chamber at its finest. A bunch of people convincing themselves that the world works a certain way because the only people they talk to are experts in that world-view. And this happens everywhere – I see it all too often.

There’s a pretty easy way to figure out if you live inside the echo chamber. Just as yourself when the last time you sat and talked with someone from your target audience/market and asked them about their needs?

The scary thing about the echo chamber is that it can often times start feature and product wars amongst vendors that are scarcely relevant to customers’ actual needs. But this is an opportunity for those with good listening skills, you can avoid that war by talking with your audience and learning what truly causes them pain day in and day out.

Get a few people on the phone who don’t think about this problem all day long. Someone who needs your product, but doesn’t obsess about it. You may be surprised that they have better insights than you.

Postscript: if you are interested in the NPR news story, you can find it here: Medical Innovations Can Come At A Cost