What to Ask: How to Learn What Customers Need but Don’t Tell You | Andrea Belk Olson
Andrea Belk Olson Business Research & Development Customer Relations Marketing & Consumer Behavior Business Education Consumer Behavior Marketing & Sales Management & Leadership Systems & Planning Business & Money
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Does capturing customer feedback feel like a pointless exercise?
No matter the number of surveys, interviews, or studies conducted, we regularly fail to uncover those gems needed to make our organization stand out. It’s no surprise given that “expert” guidance states the obvious, like “Ask open-ended questions,” “Identify patterns,” or “Extract insights.” What’s needed is a way to discover what we’re missing.
Traditional customer feedback methods ignore two essential sources of insight: context and behavior. These reveal the WHY behind the WHAT, eliminating the ambiguity of open-ended customer feedback—and this requires a different approach.
In What to Ask, author Andrea Belk Olson, CEO of applied behavioral science consulting firm Pragmadik, and head of the University of Iowa JPEC startup incubator, delivers a unique, cognitive method for discovering hidden customer needs, converting them quickly into differentiators, and avoiding the pitfalls of traditional research.
Olson also details how individuals and organizations can better tune into customer needs by sharpening their strategic focus, cultivating customer-focused behaviors, and challenging cognitive biases.
For anyone faced with discovering what customers really want, What to Ask delivers a concise approach for spotting those unspoken customer needs and converting them into real customer innovations.
“In What to Ask, Andrea Belk Olson cuts through the clutter of customer data noise and guides us squarely into their hearts and minds where, together, we can help discover the unspoken needs and desires they’ve yet to articulate. If you are competing in a space clamoring for insights about your customers, read this book.”
—Ron Carucci, Managing Partner, Navalent, Bestselling Author of To Be Honest and Rising to Power
“What To Ask provides an enlightened view of the customer insight challenge that every single business today struggles with. And it delivers to-the-point, non-academic, no bullshit methods and guidance to address it.”
—Dennis Sparks, Retired Director of Global Supply Chain with Pfizer, and Board Member at the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
“What to Ask is a must-read for business leaders and decision makers at all levels and in every industry and an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who are seeking to innovate and differentiate in emerging markets or in existing markets where current solutions no longer meet customers’ needs.”
—Tom Trone, Retired Global Sales, Marketing And Business development Executive with John Deere, Serial Entrepreneur, and Entrepreneurial Instructor at The University Of Iowa
“What to Ask is just what we need right now in the customer insights and marketing domain . . . This smart, practical guide leverages behavioral science to help you help customers reveal what really drives their decision-making, so that you have a real shot at impacting it.”
—Elys Roberts, CEO & Founder, BEESY
“This is an excellent, contemporary reference manual for people measurement and all the foibles of human nature that go with it, brought to life in a fascinating and memorable way.”
—Patrick Fagan, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Capuchin Behavioural Science, and Lecturer at the University of London
“This book will help sharpen your customer focus. Incredibly immersive yet practical, it skips all the vague theories and delivers an immediately applicable method to shift organizational mindsets around customers and what they need now.”
—Steve Blank, Adjunct Professor at Stanford University, Senior Fellow at Columbia Business School, Architect of the National Science Foundation I-CORPS Curriculum, Father of Modern Entrepreneurship and Author of The Startup Owner’s Manual
“This is the best title of any marketing book. And the contents more than live up to the promise. It is a masterclass in learning to uncover the decisive distinctions and paradoxes in human behaviour which most businesses overlook to their cost.”
—Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman at Ogilvy UK, TED Global Speaker and Author of Alchemy: The Surprising Power Of Ideas That Don't Make Sense
“I teach every entrepreneur that they must know their customer better than their customer knows themself. This is the first book that I’ve read that shows you exactly what that means and how to do it.”
—Gino Wickman, Founder of EOS, and Author of Traction and Entrepreneurial Leap
“In this insightful, entertaining and practical book, Andrea Belk Olson gives hugely useful and valuable frameworks to make sure the questions you ask about your customers give you the answers you need to drive business success.”
—Richard Chataway, Author of ’The Behaviour Business’ and CEO of BVA Nudge Unit UK
"Andrea Belk Olson explains cogently and practicality how to understand customer needs in a world where technology creates the illusion that it’s ‘all in the data.’”
—Martin Reeves, Chair, BCG Henderson Institute and author of Your Strategy Needs a Strategy and The Imagination Machine
About the Author
Andrea Olson is a strategist, speaker, author, and customer-centricity expert. As the CEO at Pragmadik, she helps organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to Fortune 500, and has served as an outside consultant for EY and McKinsey. Andrea is the author of The Customer Mission: Why It’s Time to Cut the $*&% and Get Back to the Business of Understanding Customers and No Disruptions: The New Future for Mid-Market Manufacturing. She is a 4-time ADDY® award winner and host of the popular Customer Mission podcast. Andrea is also a contributing author for Entrepreneur Magazine, The Financial Brand, Chief Executive Magazine, and Customer Experience Magazine.
A sought-after keynote speaker at conferences and corporate events, Andrea is a visiting lecturer at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business and head of their Startup Business Incubator (JPEC Founders Club), a TEDx presenter, and a TEDx speaker coach. She is also a mentor at the University of Iowa Venture School. Andrea lives with her husband in Davenport, Iowa.
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