February 4, 2020

Start With the Customer and Work Backwards

Tuesdays With Coleman

“Start with the customer experience and work backwards.”

That’s what Steve Jobs says 1:55 into this video from 1997 in response to an audience member who was questioning Jobs’ strategic direction.

It’s an example of Outside Thinking–seeing your product from the viewpoint of your customers.

In the video, Jobs goes on to give an example of how things should not be done at Apple. “We could sit down with the engineers, figure out what technology we have and say, ‘how will we market that?”

That’s Inside Thinking.

Contrast this with, “What incredible benefits can we give to the customer?”

That’s Outside Thinking.

If someone in your industry were to take Jobs’ advice, starting with the customer experience and working backwards, what would it look like?

Picture a whiteboard filled with all the experiences consumers have with your brand including how, where, when and why they use it.

We would consider all points of possible friction, and then determine if there are more effective ways to deliver the experience.

How would this look at your company?

Business teams are far more likely to take stock of how they deliver the customer experience and adjust it based on their experience with the product. When approached in this manner, there’s always the danger of “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome.

By taking the Outside Thinking approach–starting with the customer experience and working backwards–that’s where you’ll discover the new approaches and innovations that truly create passion and loyalty.

2 thoughts on “Start With the Customer and Work Backwards”

  1. Chris Crowley


    Great thought piece. It’s something that a lot of radio seems to have forgotten. It’s not about US, it’s about them. Start outside and work your way back in. I’ll be passing this on to my staff. Thanks!

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