Customers will help you set prices before—but not after—you launch your new product. They want you to develop innovative new products and services that deliver value to them… so they’ll give you insights to make this happen. These same insights allow you to establish optimal pricing. Do you know how to do this? It will be too late after you launch your product.
More in 2-minute video at 34. Use value calculators to establish pricing
If we bring a prototype to a customer, this is “concept testing.” Something different from voice of the customer research. But when definitions are not understood, these become conflated and we fool ourselves into believing that we’re more customer-centric than we really are. This confusion results from how innovation and new product processes have evolved. ... Read More
This mantra guides the decisions of the business masses. But is it right? Peter Drucker didn’t think so. He said the primary purpose of a business is to acquire and keep customers. I believe increased shareholder value is a good result, but a lousy goal. You’ll have better results if your goal becomes: “Understand and meet the needs of our customers.”
More in 2-minute video at 5. Shareholder wealth is a poor goal
Research shows the best way to sell a product is to probe customers’ needs. But why wait until the product is developed? If you probe beforehand, you’ll create a better product and “pre-sell” your product. This isn’t practical for interviewing millions of B2C toothpaste buyers, but it is for concentrated B2B markets. B2B engagement skills aren’t difficult. Do you have them?
More in 2-minute video at 29. Engage your B2B customers
Some companies rely on a handful of internal VOC (voice-of-customer) experts to interview customers. You’ll do far better if you train a critical mass of employees—who routinely interact with customers anyway—to gather customer needs. Keep your VOC experts as coaches and trainers, but implement “VOC for the masses.”
This certainly applies to your sales team. Instead of being satisfied with just a “sales force,” why not also commission a “learning force”? That’s what happens when your sales professionals have strong voice-of-customer skills.
More in white paper, Everyday VOC at www.EVOCpaper.com
About 100 books on innovation are now written weekly… and 100 times as many articles on innovation are now published as in the 1970’s. So if you haven’t noticed, you might not be paying close attention. You know… like General Motors and Chrysler weren’t paying attention to Toyota and the Quality Wave in the 1970’s.
The good news is that your competitors may still be focused on initiatives other than whole-hearted, market-facing innovation. Like Toyota in the Quality Wave, you create a competitive advantage by moving faster and harder on this. More in 2-minute video, Catch the innovation wave.
More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave
Think you can validate your new product concept with customers and avoid confirmation bias? Good luck with that. In your last performance review, did you agree with your boss’s praise more than his criticism? If so, you may not have overcome confirmation bias quite yet.
So if you want to avoid innovation malpractice, you need to stop leading the witness in interviews. Let them lead you to what really matters to them. My suggestion: Focus your customer interview on their desired outcomes. Then just check afterwards to see if their outcomes are a good match for your intended solution.
More in 2-minute video, Give your hypothesis the silent treatment
When you can count on profitable, sustainable organic growth, everything gets better. Employees have stable, rewarding careers. Industry-watchers admire your company. Customers want to work with you. Activist investors bother someone else. And it irritates competitors. What’s not to love?
But you have only one path to this type of growth. You must understand and meet customer needs better than others. How intense is your focus here? Is it greater than that of your competitors’? Or is your business distracted by other initiatives that can never deliver rapid, profitable, sustainable growth?
More in 2-minute video, Rethink your major initiatives
It may be OK for consumer goods producers to guess their customers’ needs. After all, their product developers are end-consumers themselves. So if you’re an Apple engineer, you already know what consumers like you want in a mobile phone.
But your B2B customers know much more than you about their needs. If you make pigment, your customers know a lot more than you about the paper production it’s used in. Isn’t it silly to guess their needs when they’d love to tell you… if you asked the right way? That’s why you need to let the customer lead the interview, not you. Yep, you can put your questionnaire or interview guide away now.
More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B
With apologies to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina… all great voice-of-customer (VOC) interviews are alike in the same way: The customer is talking during most of the interview. And they are talking about those outcomes (desired end results) they want to talk about. Anything else is clutter, much of which leads to unhappiness.
For B2B voice-of-customer interviews, plan on two rounds of interview… first qualitative interviews (called Discovery), followed by quantitative interviews (called Preference). In both cases, the customers will be doing most of the talking… and about matters that interest them. They’ll be happy. You’ll be happy.
More in video, Reinventing VOC for B2B