Blog Category: Customer Insights (VOC)

Good B2B VOC is an exercise in humility.

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It’s different for consumer goods innovators, who can often observe end-consumers and then come up with clever solutions. But B2B innovators must approach their customers with hat in hand and humbly ask, “Can you help me understand your world?” Remarkably few do this. Just as remarkably, B2B customers love it when they do. The customer becomes the teacher, the supplier the student… and both are rewarded with market-changing innovation.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs

You don’t need bigger missiles. You need a better targeting system.

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For artillery, archery or cancer treatment, you 1) scan the terrain, 2) detect the high-value targets, and 3) then commence firing. If you have weak reconnaissance, faulty satellite imagery or a blindfolded archer, it doesn’t matter how good your payload is: You won’t be successful. In NPD, this means 1) diverge to all possible customer outcomes, 2) find which are important and unsatisfied, and 3) develop your solution. Most B2B companies need to improve #1 and #2. A lot.

More in video, New Product Blueprinting—the Future of B2B Innovation

Here’s what’s important to growth-seeking companies.

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Our research into the views of B2B professionals regarding organic growth revealed: The #1 driver of profitable, sustainable growth is strong value propositions. The #1 differentiator between strong and weak value providers is front-end work. The #1 most desired area to improve is market insight. See a pattern? Today’s key to growth isn’t an improved stage-and-gate process or hiring more R&D staff. It’s understanding customer needs better than competitors.

More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth

A Primary VoC Tool: B2B Customer Tours

B2B customer tours

How valuable are B2B customer tours? Well – in the early 1980s, Eugene Goodson was the head of Johnson Controls’ automotive seating group, when a Japanese competitor requested a plant tour. The Japanese visitors spent less than one hour in the plant and took no notes. Harmless, right? Years later Goodson and his team were ... Read More

Is your business engaging in trench warfare?

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This is also known as “attrition warfare,” and is characterized by competitors applying the same tactics. It’s also characterized by everyone losing, even the winners. Keep your productivity and quality initiatives… but understand that by themselves, these initiatives put you in a race to the bottom. Better to focus on what your competitors are not doing well. For B2B companies today, this is understanding customer needs before developing new products for them.

More in white paper, Guessing at Customer Needs

You can see surprising diversity with quantitative B2B market insight.

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We recently compiled a dozen short case stories of B2B clients doing impressive front-end work. (See www.aimcasestories.com.) What surprised us was how different each case was. The NPD project teams all used their quantitative Preference interviews to construct Market Satisfaction Gap profiles… and we were struck with how unique market segments can be. Truly, each one tells a story: Until you do quantitative interviews, though, that story goes untold.

More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth

Don’t focus too much on results

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Does this seem like terrible advice? Especially in our age of hyper-attention to quarterly results? But if you focus too much on business results, you’ll degrade them over time. Why? You must also focus on capabilities. Steven Covey cautioned us to balance P (production or “results”) with PC (productive capability). Sadly, many business leaders forget the “capabilities” part. One capability is understanding the needs of your customers… so you can develop better products… for better business results.

See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey

What stops when you start requiring Market Satisfaction Gaps?

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Market Satisfaction Gaps (MSG) come from teams’ quantitative interviews, and are reliable evidence of which outcomes customer do—and do not—want “fixed.” When you require MSGs as the “admission ticket” for projects to enter the costly product development stage, 3 things go away: 1. Confusion (misunderstanding customer needs and their priorities), 2. Bias (altering customer needs to better fit our pre-conceived solutions), and 3. Filtering (cherry-picking customer needs to match those we hoped to hear.)

More in article, Market Satisfaction Gaps… your key to B2B organic growth