Using customer insight to turn a great idea into a successful business


We have never met an entrepreneur who does not think their idea will change the world. The question is: does the world agree?

Like most entrepreneurs, we started our business because we had an idea for a service that we felt was badly missing. We were tired of finding out about “the sales” after all the good stuff had gone. We wanted a simple, efficient way to find out about fashion sales and special offers on the high street without having to sign up to dozens of email subscriptions.

We knew there was a demand out there but we needed to establish how that demand could be met. Our customers were they key. And if we’ve learnt one thing it’s the importance of consistently making the effort to understand what our customers want and, finding ways to satisfy their needs in a profitable way.

Many first-time entrepreneurs, having fallen in love with their initial idea or business plan, think it will drive them all the way to success. The truth is that once the initial idea is introduced to the market it will have to be revised, redesigned and improved many times over.

You will know what you want to achieve but it’s unlikely you will do that just by sticking to the original route you had planned. If you fail to monitor, understand and act upon your customers’ needs and priorities you’ll end up on the rocks. You need to be able to answer a few simple questions: Do your customers keep coming back? Are they spending more money with you? Why? What value can you add to get them to come back more often, and spend more?

The key here is to test your assumptions quickly by asking customers what they think and track consumer response to changes in your product or service. Some marketers call it being ‘customer-centric’; for any successful entrepreneur, constant improvement based on customer feedback is one of the key building blocks for their business.

Testing! Testing!

Before we launched SalesGossip we set about testing our initial concept on a group of target customers, knowing that what they said would ultimately affect the direction our business was to take. They loved SalesGossip as much as we did, but they hated our interface. We thought we knew how users would like to browse the sales, but we were wrong.

We had grown attached to certain features, but our target market told us they didn’t like them. We modified the website structure and redesigned the user interface and, as soon as we launched the new version, traffic and the numberreturning customers began to increase. We are constantly improving and enriching our service based on customer feedback and metrics we setup to understand consumers’ behaviour better.

Plenty of evidence exists to show that satisfaction with the customer experience is linked to profitability. For example, research has shown that twice as many car dealerships with low satisfaction scores went out of business in the recession as those with high scores.

In the digital world, customer experience is just as important, if not even more so, because there is not the direct personal interaction to resolve any problems. A boring site or clunky mobile app will never take off, however innovative the initial idea. The runaway success of a website like Net-a-Porter or Dropbox can be directly attributed to outstanding customer experience, achieved through continuous improvements to their service based on customer feedback.

And this will never stop. 100-year-old companies, from Porsche to Selfridges, still differentiate themselves through the superb customer insight that allows them to provide an outstanding customer experience.

It’s critical that you regularly use customer feedback to shape your product roadmap. No matter how great your initial idea, customers will vote first with their feedback and then with their feet. Your job is to take that feedback and translate it into something that far exceeds their expectations.

Emilio Sanz is the co-founder and CTO at



Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most