You're more likely to satisfy your customers if you understand their needs, gripes, opinions and pain points. This holds true when building digital products and services (apps, websites, Alexa skills etc).
There are many techniques for conducting user research. Some that we recommend are:
- Asking potential customers questions (user interviews)
- Holding discussions with many people face to face (focus groups)
- Invite people to complete surveys on social media
- Observing staff of customers carrying out work tasks (aka day in the life)
You can often wrap up your findings into a persona document which can then inform design decisions for your digital product or service.
To learn more about this, one good source is the UK Government Digital Services guidelines.
Doing this requires some skill and expertise, so you should try it out on projects that can afford the risk and develop your user research capabilites. Also, it takes time for teams to understand and get value from user-research, so don't expect everynoe to "get it" overnight.