One of the most influential books I read this year (2007) was Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. Really a great book with lots to think about in the area of exceeding your customer’s expectations. One of the great aspects of the book was the reading list at the end of every chapter and one of the books cited was How Customers Think by Gerald Zaltman.
I’m about 120 pages into it and suffice it to say this is an interesting book. Not light reading. Not holiday reading. But definitely the kind of information that could transform the way you look at your customer. Want a taste? Think about this:
"Ninety-five percent of thinking takes place in our unconscious minds—that wonderful, if messy, stew of memories, emotions, thoughts, and other cognitive processes we’re not aware of or that we can’t articulate."
What’s it mean? Ponder the idea that 95% of all the thinking your customer is doing is happening at a level that even they don’t understand. The other 5% is the part attempting to make sense of the decisions they’ve really already made.
Hmmmmm. What’s that say about how we’re designing what we’re doing?
What I’m loving about the book? There’s more than just where things are unfathomable. Lot’s here too about how to dig deep enough to understand how to design it to appeal to the "cognitive unconscious."