Saturday, 12 April 2008

Worry About Your Customers, Not The Competition

Filed under: Product Design,Just Great Software — Jan Goyvaerts @ 11:07

Joel Spolsky writes:

A minute spent understanding the competition is a minute not spent listening to customers, potential customers, and near-miss customers, who would be happy to tell you directly what it would take to sell to them.

That’s absolutely true. I almost never look at the competition. The only time I really check out the competition is when drawing up ideas for new products. That’s to make sure my product is actually does something new, or does something that’s been done but in a new way.

But once the product’s out, customer feedback is really all I listen too. It’s also the reason why I keep doing much of the customer support myself. Time I spend on support cuts significantly into the time I spend on design and development. But I doubt I would be able to do that design and development as well as I do if I shielded myself from customer feedback.

I’ve been using this strategy for over a decade with great success. The thing is, your customers do look at your competitors when they’re evaluating similar solutions. And they’ll tell you about your competitor’s strengths that really matter, not the ones that simply fill up the feature matrix.

The Features and Customers post I wrote on my old blog last year has some more details on how I keep track of customer feedback.


  1. […] if any) can handle them yourself. Though providing support can be stressful, it helps you keeps your finger on the pulse. Getting “thank you” notes (and sales!) after helping a (prospective) customer is very […]

    Pingback by Micro-ISV.asia » Be Good, and Charge for It — Friday, 25 April 2008 @ 17:07

  2. hi

    Regexbuddy was one of the best softwares I’ve ever used, I find it amazing that you manage all the support by yourself.

    you must be one superhumanistic programmer.

    Comment by admirer — Wednesday, 19 August 2009 @ 23:26

  3. The only way to keep up with support (other than hiring people who read from scripts for minimal pay) is to engineer support issues out of the product as much as possible.

    Comment by Jan Goyvaerts — Thursday, 20 August 2009 @ 13:23

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