42: Is It A Company Problem Or A Customer Problem?

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This is a podcast episode titled, 42: Is It A Company Problem Or A Customer Problem?. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- One of the best questions you can ask when you're building a product, selling a product, or marketing a product: "is this our problem? or our customer's problem?" Who is this a problem for? Plus Dave shares what its like getting hard feedback from David. Connect With Us Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. Come hang out with us at seekingwisdom.io and on Twitter @seekingwisdomio. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.

Dave: We're back.

DC: And we're back!

Dave: We're back, yeah. I thought you were asleep then for a second.

DC: Damn. I was, man. I almost tapped out.

Dave: You got the injured back but you battled through it today and did a Growth Hackers AMA.

DC: I just did this Growth Hackers AMA. I'm busted. Uncle DC's busted. I got to admit it.

Dave: It's good. It's good.

DC: I hurt my back. I'm coming back. Don't worry about me. We're going to get this.

Dave: It's been crazy. It's been a week since our last episode, which it usually goes, but it's Thursday today and it's been a busy week. So we almost got to the end of the week, but I'm going to drop this one today I promise.

DC: Dave, how come you don't give the people what they want?

Dave: I do. It's hard. It's both, like you always say, we got a lot of stuff going on, but I'm still in here, we're still in here giving people what they want on this podcast.

DC: Let's keep it 100.

Dave: So here's what I want to do today. I want to do an episode. I usually have a bunch of notes and stuff, but I want to have just a discussion with you about something that you always say to the team-

DC: Uh- oh.

Dave: ...and to me and to people you advise and other things. You always ask this question: you say," Is that a company problem? Or is that a customer problem?"

DC: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Dave: Like you said it to me here... An example is I was writing some new website copy the other day, and you sent it to me and you said," No." You said," This is our problem. This is not a customer problem."

DC: First, Dave, how does it feel to get feedback from me?

Dave: Ah, man. It's-

DC: Share it with the people.

Dave: Okay. So here's how I would describe it. It's like you're in your house, it's warm, it's cozy, it's really nice. All of a sudden, someone comes in, they rip open the door, they throw you outside, it's freezing cold. And at first it sucks, but once you're outside for 10 minutes, you get adjusted to the temperature.

DC: Did you hear that people? That's how it feels to get feedback. We'll put that in quotes. Feedback from me.

Dave: It's good.

DC: It's good. It's good.

Dave: Yeah. It always ends up working out. But I think there... The thing that I remind myself of is that comfort is the enemy of growth.

DC: Amen. And I should get that tattooed on my chest.

Dave: You have a knack for pushing me outside of that zone.

DC: crosstalk comfort?

Dave: So anyway, let's talk about this.

DC: Let's talk about that. Is this a company problem or a customer problem?

Dave: What does that mean?

DC: Hmm. It's deep. It means a lot of things. So I think I started to say that years ago to try to orient us and myself around really first clarifying with: what's the goal? What are we trying to achieve? And then: why are we trying to achieve it? And so we bring it back to: who is this a problem for? Most things that we all chase, including us, and so this is why we need this kind of framework, is a company problem when you reduce it. Most of our time that we're running around inside our companies, building something, we're optimizing for the wrong person, and we're optimizing for our problems internally. And so that goes from marketing to when we're selling to what we're building in product. And this is why we always rant and talk about ideas versus customer problems, right? Forget the ideas. Screw the ideas. Focus on customer problems. And we need to do that on a day- to- day basis at a micro level inside of a company, and keep asking ourselves," Who is this a problem for?"

Dave: Right? An example that we've been thinking and talking about internally here is CRMs, right?

DC: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Dave: The functionality in a CRM exists to solve a company problem.

DC: Absolutely.

Dave: What you've been saying is rows, tables, database.

DC: Mm-hmm(affirmative). So yeah, the traditional CRM today is built around an old concept, right? An old object in the computer world, right? And in the computer science side. That is the concept of a database. A database is comprised of tables with rows and columns and attributes and fields. That led to a progression towards forms and spreadsheets. And that's led to what we know as today as the modern CRM. But if you ask anyone who uses a CRM, if you ask a sales rep, which is the main user of a CRM, they say a CRM is not for them. A CRM is for the manager. It's for the boss. It's for a top- down approach to business where compliance is the key. Compliance is what they're trying to get with a CRM. And never is the customer in there. The customer is just a data point in the CRM, right? And never is the CRM oriented around better serving a customer. It is oriented around compliance to a manage a sales management approach

Dave: Right. The sales rep cares about a conversation.

DC: Absolutely. They care about a conversation. They care about moving forward with a prospect. They care about turning a prospect into a customer, and communicating with that prospect throughout that journey. They don't care about filling out forms and rows and properties and fields so that their manager can make sure that they are in compliance with their sales management process.

Dave: I remember, going back to almost a year ago, we were trying to think about: how do we position drift and what do we talk about? And I kept defaulting to write," Customer engagement," or something like that. Right?

DC: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Fancy words.

Dave: That means something to us.

DC: Yes.

Dave: That means nothing to... None of our potential customers are going to wake up and be like," I have a customer engagement problem."

DC: Yeah. And that's why we... That's why, a while ago, kind of gently, I gently lifted you out of your warm chair, by the fireplace, drinking a hot cup of cocoa, and led you outside to this world of going back in time and focusing in on early copywriters of the last century. Right? And focusing on what they were doing in terms of getting a message to resonate with a customer. And when you look at that, you saw how much of that was oriented around framing a customer problem and not a company problem.

Dave: Right. So one of the things that we think about now is," Would 99% of the world understand what I'm writing?"

DC: Yes.

Dave: "If not, then let's not use that."

DC: Nope. Because then we know if we are using words and phrases that 99% of the world understand, then we know we are closer to talking about a true customer problem and not a company problem. An example would be... A customer problem could be," I don't have enough... I can't communicate with the leads or prospects that I have today. I don't have enough customers." Right? That's a customer problem, and that's something they would identify with. Like," Don't have enough customers? Do X." That would be a great headline for a solution to that problem.

Dave: Right.

DC: Instead of saying something around a CRM, or," Need a new CRM? Need a new lead management tool? Need a new lead capture tool? Need a widget on your site that captures lead information?" Who cares?

Dave: Right. Nobody wakes up and they're like,"This is what my need is."

DC: No." I need more customers. How do I get more customers? I don't need a lead management scoring compliance system."

Dave: Yeah. So do you think just having this conversation, whether you're an engineer, a designer, marketer or whatever, is it just... Thinking about this and just asking this question while you're building something, is that the strategy? Is that the takeaway from this is: just ask that question?

DC: I think the takeaway, for me, is not to simply ask the question, but to treat this question as a mantra when you are building something. And the difference is it's not a one- time question. It's not something you ask at the beginning or at the end or in the middle of the process. It is a daily mantra. Is this a customer problem or a company problem? Customer problem? Company problem? Every day. Just like you need a mantra in your life when you focus around getting fit, becoming a better parent, becoming a better friend. You need a daily reminder in order to form good habits to make sure that you do the right thing.

Dave: Yeah. Totally agree. I'm glad we did this episode because I think that is the one... That's the one thing that has, I think, changed our team is the relentless focus on asking that question. And I think it's one of those pieces of advice that can be applied to any part of the business.

DC: Yeah. I think, like we always say, the companies that are winning in this new era that's upon us are the ones that are closest to the customer. So we think it's not a B2B thing, it's not a B2C thing, it is a question of: what is your proximity to the customer?

Dave: That's my new favorite theme is this whole proximity to the customer thing. And just go back and do a little history lesson. And if you look at any of the disruptive billion- dollar businesses over the last decade, 15 years, has all been because of that. Who got closer to their customer, Netflix or Blockbuster?

DC: Netflix.

Dave: Right? You can go down the whole list. Cabs or Uber?

DC: Uber.

Dave: Hotels or Airbnb?

DC: Airbnb.

Dave: You can go down the whole list.

DC: Amazon or Walmart?

Dave: There's never been a downside to getting closer.

DC: Nope. And that is the new trend. And, to me, I look at all those companies that Dave mentioned and say... People will look at them and say," Oh, it's a mobile company. It's a technology company. It's a this company." Wrong. Nope. inaudible. Everyone is applying technology to every problem they're solving in the world today. What is different about those companies is their proximity to the customer. And I think the wrong question that we get sometimes is," Oh, is this for B2B or B2C?" Again, do 99% of people know B2B to B2C? Who cares? This is for companies that have a close proximity to their customer, aka companies that are going to win.

Dave: Exactly. I love it. One thing I thought of, by the way, I haven't mentioned this to you not on this podcast, we should do a Seeking Wisdom when we go to San Francisco.

DC: Damn! Talk to me.

Dave: How's that?

DC: Let's do it. Who wants to come? crosstalk.

Dave: Well, no, I mean... So if you're going to be... If you're in San Francisco, we're going to be there. It's a couple months, in February. It's for Saster. DC is going to be speaking. And so we're going to be out there, and I thought maybe we would get the west coast crew from seeking wisdom and we would do a little meetup.

DC: Yeah. That crew is thick.

Dave: It is, surprisingly. No, maybe not surprisingly, but it's pretty cool.

DC: It's not surprising. We're worldwide.

Dave: It's worldwide. Global.

DC: Speaking of worldwide-

Dave: Uh- oh.

DC: ...we got some five star reviews.

Dave: DC's going to fly... No, I'm just kidding.

DC: Yeah. We got five star reviews. They're coming heavy. They come every week.

Dave: I checked. 143. It's pretty good.

DC: Damn. That's amazing.

Dave: We need more, though.

DC: It's not 200. It's not 500. All right. We keep doubling up, we keep growing. We're growing together as a community. We need your help. If you're listening to this and you haven't given us five star review, please do so. Let's help this word spread. Let's help make the world a better place. More learning is better.

Dave: I love it. That's Seeking wisdom for this week. And we're out.

DC: Five stars only.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. --- One of the best questions you can ask when you're building a product, selling a product, or marketing a product: "is this our problem? or our customer's problem?" Who is this a problem for? Plus Dave shares what its like getting hard feedback from David. Connect With Us Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. Come hang out with us at seekingwisdom.io and on Twitter @seekingwisdomio. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.