AIM Archives - Tag: customer needs

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.

Always separate customer “needs” into two buckets.

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As explained by Tony Ulwick in What Customers Want, the term customer “needs” can be confusing. It’s best to separate what customers want into outcomes (their desired end-result, or the “what”) and solutions (your answer to their need, or the “how”). Keep your interview focused on their outcomes, not solutions. If they offer a solution, simply ask, “What would that do for you?” Poof: You’re back into outcome space where you want to be.

More in article, Discovery Interview Blunders that Frustrate Your Customers.

Are you working on a system with diminishing returns or increasing returns?

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Keep working harder and smarter, but recognize you’ll move the needle less and less in a system of diminishing returns… like wringing out the last bit of productivity or quality. But when you focus on understanding customer needs better than competitors, your insights and new product innovations—and resulting revenue—will keep coming. Increasing returns. A wonderful system to work hard and smart at.

More in white paper, Catch the Innovation Wave.

Evidence-based innovation leads to innovation speed.

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If your NPD teams are confident of customer needs, your projects will go faster for 3 reasons: 1) Bad ideas are killed quickly, freeing up resources. 2) Dead-end detours and diversions are avoided. 3) Hesitation—with second-guessing, delays and debates—is squelched. As Netscape founder, Jim Barksdale, said “If we have data, let’s use it. If we have opinions, let’s use mine.” B2B innovators can find the data they need in Market Satisfaction Gaps.

More in white paper, Market Satisfaction Gaps

“What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?”

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Jeff Bezos believes this is a more important question than “What’s going to change in the next 10 years?” In the world of new product development, we find that customer outcomes—desired end results—tend to be more stable over time than supplier solutions. So instead of validating your solutions during customer interviews, seek to uncover and understand the most important, unmet customer outcomes. Then pursue these stable targets with your solutions.

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

Some leaders could boost innovation by staying home

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We see three areas where leaders can have a greater negative impact on innovation than positive: 1) organizational friction (travel bans, spending freezes, hiring delays, excessive re-orgs, etc.) that slow innovation to a crawl, 2) spreading too few resources over too many projects so that nothing moves briskly, and 3) short-changing the front-end of innovation, so that a clear picture of customer needs is lacking. Companies pay a heavy price for keeping such leaders in place.

More in article, Accelerate New Product Innovation

Seek to be right, not to be proven right

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“Proven right” breeds confirmation bias; “be right” inspires a search for truth. In new product development, “proven right” seeks to validate the supplier’s ideas; “be right” explores customers’ worlds seeking what others have missed. “Proven right” results in squandered R&D spending and missed opportunities; “be right” in delighted customers, premium pricing, and pleasant financial review meetings.

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth

Problem as given… vs. problem as understood

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During the Vietnam war, the US was still using its cold war approach of “problem as given”… applying prescribed responses for a long list of scenarios. This was a disaster in the face of evolving threats. Now their protocol is “problem as understood”… developing solutions only after the problem is well defined. Is your company using “cold-war innovation,” or does it place a high priority on learning what customers truly want before developing products for them?

More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth

Do you pursue speed… or velocity?

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The difference between speed and velocity is that only velocity has a direction associated with it. Many in business are focused on going as fast as they can… in any direction. Avoiding solid front-end-of-innovation work because you want to develop your new product faster is a prime example. Sure, you launched your product quickly… but no one bought it, because you failed to first understand customers’ needs.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B