Episode#15:Weave’s BGS Webinar Series

About the speaker

Johny Wudel¹ was one of the featured speakers at our 2020 Business Growth Summit. As Weave’s VP of Product, Johny specializes in product development and the customer experience. Prior to joining Weave, he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School,² ran his own small business, and worked with Fortune 500 companies³ like Google, Burger King, T-Mobile, and Under Armour. 

This range of experiences has taught Johny that the formula for success is the same for every vertical and every size of business. Focusing on the customer experience is how you succeed. In the course of his talk, Johny discusses different approaches to the customer experience.

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Is the customer always right?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the customer is always right. Johny starts off his presentation by considering a counterpoint: the customer is not always right. What if businesses have been thinking about this subject incorrectly for years?

Henry Ford is reported to have said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This statement, though it can’t be directly linked to Ford, suggests that customers don’t in fact know what they want. Steve Jobs said something similar, claiming, “Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.”

However, Jobs also said, “Really great products come from melding two points of view–the technology point of view and the customer point of view. You need both.” Clearly, there’s some contradictory information about how highly the customer’s opinion should be valued.

For Johny, “Is the customer always right?” is the wrong question. Instead, businesses should be asking how and when they should be listening to the right customer. That begs another question, though: who is the right customer?

Johny characterizes the right customer as someone you enjoy working with that also enjoys working with you. They get value from your product and they’re profitable to your business. Too often, businesses listen to the loudest voice in the room. Focus on the right customer, who’s voice you can never listen to enough.

listening to customer

How should you listen to the right customer?

To help us understand how to listen to the right customer, Johny refers to the Jobs to Be Done4 theory promulgated by Clayton Christensen. The central idea behind this theory is that people don’t simply buy products or services, they hire them to make progress in specific circumstances. So, your customers are viewing your products or services the same way they would if they were hiring someone to repair their refrigerator or paint their white walls.

The Case of Au Bon Pain

As an example, Johny discusses the case of Au Bon Pain, an East Coast sandwich shop with over 200 locations. The restaurant started as a breadshop, and an entrepreneur acquired the breadshop when it was on the brink of bankruptcy.

One day, the owner saw a customer order a baguette, sit down at a table, then proceed to cut the baguette and make a sandwich out of it right there in the store. The owner reacted quickly, and rebranded as a sandwich shop almost overnight. Although the customer didn’t articulate his needs, he didn’t have to; the owner watched the customer’s behavior and responded.

The Case of Weave’s Team Chat

Johny has put these principles into practice during his own career. At Weave, the product department noticed that our clients were using the Messages tool to text not only with their customers, but with their coworkers. Once this observation was made, Johny’s team went into action by creating the Team tool.

Weave Team was developed to let office workers chat with their coworkers in a place that’s convenient and HIPAA compliant. It allows employees to share information and ask questions quickly within the Weave app. 60% of our customers adopted the Team tool within a week of it being made available.

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The Case of the CT scanner

Businesses need to embrace it when customers do things differently, says Johny. A third example of this principle involves the medical device known as a CT scanner.

Its inventor went in to observe how child patients were reacting to being scanned. A sick child was so afraid of the machine that the medical technician had to sedate the child. When the inventor, Douglas Boyd, asked how often children reacted adversely, the technician said 90% of the time!

Boyd began observing child patients in need of a CT scan. He noticed that sick children often had to sit inside all day in sterile environments. He often found them looking outside at other, healthy kids having their own adventures.

As a result, no changes were made to the CT scanner. Instead, Boyd pushed for decorations and frills that made the scanner look like a pirate ship or a submarine to increase the sense of adventure for the sick children in need of a CT scan. This adjustment couldn’t have been articulated from a survey or standard marketing questions.

The right customers know what they need

In conclusion, Johny asks his audience a series of questions. When people come into your business or office, what are they experiencing? How are they experiencing communication with your business? What happens when they get a message from you? Answering these questions will be key to understanding the customer experience in your particular business.

Although the customer may not always be right, the right customers know what they need. As you discover those needs, you’ll be able to fulfill them better than anyone. By empathizing with your customers, watching their behavior, and getting into their environment, your business can create a phenomenal customer experience.


  1. https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnywudel
  2. https://www.hbs.edu/Pages/default.aspx
  3. https://fortune.com/fortune500/
  4. https://www.christenseninstitute.org/jobs-to-be-done/