Conventional business wisdom dictates that the customer is always right. But sometimes, companies may be able to grow more explosively by ignoring the people they serve.
True, listening to customers has obvious benefits. Their feedback can help you improve your product or service; automakers continually gather thoughts from existing and potential customers on everything from fuel economy to seat materials. That's how Ford
In the social media era, it's especially valuable to pay attention to what your customers are saying, since negativity can spread quickly. United Airlines (now United Continental Holdings
For explosive growth ...
However, you won't always gain the greatest success by giving customers exactly what they say they want. Henry Ford reportedly quipped , "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me -- a faster horse."
It's nice that Apple
Other companies that have reaped great rewards by developing out-of-the-box products or industries include Sony
Credit cards have been around for many decades, with Bank of America
Listen, then do your own thing
The most successful companies take the time to listen to (or at least understand) their customers and potential customers -- but they also look far beyond immediate requests to imagine what else might be possible. Many of the most successful and dominant companies boast great traditions of innovation.
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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Apple and Starbucks. Apple, Ford Motor, and Starbucks are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Bank of America. Try any of our investing newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.