Blog Category: Customer Insights (VOC)

The incredible power of customer tours.

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How valuable are B2B customer tours? In the early 1980s, Eugene Goodson led Johnson Controls’ automotive seating group, when a Japanese competitor requested a plant tour. The Japanese team toured for less than an hour and took no notes. Harmless, right? Years later Goodson was able to read the tour report and was shocked at what the Japanese team had uncovered, including a detailed technology description and a highly accurate cost-of-sales estimate.

More in article, A primary VOC tactic: B2B customer tours

Six levels of customer insight: Which describes your business?

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Move your organization up through these levels: 1) Conference-roomers: We meet with ourselves to decide what customers want. 2) Expert-askers: We poll our own sales and tech support personnel. 3) Customer-surveyors: We get customer answers… but only to our questions. 4) Qualitative VOC-ers: Our interviews move us from voice-of-ourselves to voice-of-customer. 5) Quantitative VOC-ers: We get unbiased, unfiltered insights. 6) B2B VOC-ers: Our probing takes advantage of powerful B2B advantages.

More in article, The six levels of B2B customer engagement

Build your interview team’s skill in a stepwise fashion.

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Want to build an amazing customer interview team in a stress-free manner? Gradually increase the “stakes” of the interview by starting with easier, safer interviews. You might follow this six-step progression: 1) industry experts you pay to interview, 2) sales colleagues, 3) other departments/experts in your company, 4) your distributors, 5) smaller, safer customers, and finally, 6) larger, high-stakes customers. By the time you reach the later group, you’ll have one highly-polished and confident interview team.

More in article, Virtual VOC: 10 Advantages and 7 tips

You won’t aspire to be a “fast follower” if you understand this.

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Why would a company ever want to be a fast follower? I can only think of one reason: They want to reduce commercial risk, by coat-tailing a competitor’s market success. After all, fast-followers don’t reduce technical risk. This only increases, given the need to work around competitive patents. With B2B markets, you can eliminate most commercial risk through B2B-optimized voice-of-customer interviews. (See e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B.) Turns out the fast-follower strategy is a misguided strategy for B2B.

More in article, Chasing the Fast Follower Myth

Are there advantages to virtual customer interviews over in-person?

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While in-person interviews remain the “gold standard,” we’ve found 10 advantages to virtual voice-of-customer. These include 1) lower cost, 2) reaching dispersed customers, 3) viewable probing tips, 4) colleague training, 5) probing suggestions, 6) note-taker assistance, 7) rapid debriefing, 8) easier scheduling, 9) low-impact cancellations, and 10) greater project speed. If you’re not taking advantage of these advantages, you’re forfeiting effectiveness and efficiency in your customer insight efforts.

Download our white paper at www.virtualvoc.com

To make something perfect, you must remove everything that makes it imperfect.

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This is one of the 48—count ‘em—48 laws of Jobs-to-be-done philosophy in Scott Burleson’s book, The Statue in the Stone. Just as Michelangelo “removed everything that wasn’t David,” so successful new-product innovators seek to remove whatever is preventing perfection in the job that customers “hire” their product to improve. Good news for B2B innovators: Customers can tell you exactly what to remove in astonishing detail… where to chisel, where to sand, where to polish… but only if you know how to ask.

More at Dan Adams interviews Scott Burleson about his new book, The Statue in the Stone

Do you have a weak link in your 3-link chain to organic growth?

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Reliable growth boils down to three linked principles. 1) Your company’s only path to profitable, sustainable organic growth is to create customer value. 2) You only create customer value when you satisfy customer needs that were important and unmet. 3) You must first understand customer needs. You cannot efficiently, effectively improve that which you do not fully comprehend. So it’s time to stop thinking about voice-of-customer as just “one more initiative.” It’s much more. It’s the first link in the growth you want.

More in article, Predict the customer’s experience with modeling.

Customer Needs: from ‘guessing’ to ‘understanding’ to ‘modeling.’

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Qualitative customer interviews let you move from ‘guessing’ to ‘understanding’ customer needs. But proper quantitative interviews provide the insight you need to ‘model’ customer needs. This means you can design your new product with confidence… know how to make intelligent tradeoffs… and even understand how customers will react to your product without seeing a prototype. This works only for B2B and will someday be a common practice. But it’s uncommon today… and a profound competitive advantage.

See how in the article, B2B Customer Needs: Predict the customer’s experience with modeling.

What innovation muscles are you building?

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Champions in any sport know which muscle groups to build… with balance. A rock climber with great finger strength also needs superb core strength. You have two primary innovation muscle groups… one to understand customer needs and one to meet those needs with your new products. Your B2B business might be spending tens of millions of R&D on the latter muscle group. Keep these “meeting” muscles in shape… but start building your “understanding” muscles. That’s how you get to the top ahead of competitors.

More in article, New Product Training: Time to Build Growth Muscles.