AIM Archives - Tag: customer

Consider an important—if awkward—question to ask new-product project teams.

144 Time Spent Talking

If any process in your company should be customer-driven, it should be the one developing products for customers, right? So try this at your next review: Ask team members how many hours they spent talking to customers… and how many hours working internally. You may be surprised at how little time was spent understanding customer needs.

More in article, Should Your Stage-Gate® Get a No-Go?

B2B customers can tell you exactly what they want… but you must know how to ask.

140 Architect

Imagine you’re planning to build a new home: Your architect sees you for half an hour, spends the first 15 minutes talking about sports, and then shows you pictures of other houses he designed. Later, when the house fails to please you, he dismisses it saying, “Well that buyer just didn’t know what he wanted.” Ever treat customers this way?

More in article, What is New Product Blueprinting?

Pursuing the right customer needs requires divergent and convergent thinking… in that order.

136 Divergent Paths

For every job a customer does, there are dozens of potential outcomes… so diverge with customers to uncover far more than competitors. Then ask for 1-10 importance and satisfaction ratings so your R&D can converge on the important, unsatisfied outcomes… while competitors guess. I’d like to make this sound more complicated, but it’s not.

More in white paper, Timing is Everything (page 8).

Don’t overlook the staggering impact of directly engaging customers in your innovation.

133 Engaged Customer

Innovating companies that directly engage their customers have operating income growth rates three times higher than those that do not.  When you see a gulf of 3X, it should scream “opportunity!” Gaining customer insight in an engaging manner may be commonplace in the future, but today it’s a competitive advantage. Will you seize it?

More in article, Why Maximizing Shareholder Value is a Flawed Goal

Validating hypotheses with customers distorts your entire new product development process.

121 Distorted Viewpoint

Confirmation bias is the “tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses, regardless of whether the information is true.” It’s what happens when you take your lovely new-product hypotheses to customers. This systematically distorts data on customer needs… and that can’t be good for innovation, right?

More in article, Give your Hypothesis the “Silent Treatment” (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth).

Don’t rely on a small staff of voice-of-customer experts to do your company’s interviewing.

118 Customer Interactions

Large businesses chalk up thousands of face-to-face customer meetings each year… as sales and technical service reps go about their normal duties. Why not train these people to become VOC experts? They’ve already gained customers’ trust, they know the customer’s language, they’ll get key information first-hand, and there’s no extra travel cost.

More in article, The Cost Cutter’s Guide to Growth (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

In one study, 76% said their interviews led to unexpected or surprising information.

116 Unexpected Information

And that’s the point, isn’t it? If we just try to develop the products our customers ask everyone for, and we haven’t cornered the market on R&D genius, we’ll keep struggling with differentiation. But if we intentionally expose ourselves to unexpected information—that our competitors lack—we’ll create more significant, protectable value.

More in article, Do You Really Interview Customers?

The best way to hear (the customer) is often to see.

113 Projecting Interview Notes

One of our best innovations started as an experiment. In 2004 I projected my notes during a customer interview. The customer loved it, the meeting went far longer than expected, and we haven’t looked back since. Sure, customers can correct your notes this way, but our biggest discovery was that customers own what they create and can see.

Read more in the article, The Best Customer Interviews Use a Digital Projector (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Why take a “leap of faith” when you could take a leap of confidence—more quickly and cheaply?

110 Leap of Faith

Lean Startup methodology refers to “Leap of Faith Assumptions,” and recommends testing assumptions with customers at the first opportunity. For B2B, this “first opportunity” to learn comes before a prototype is created… through VOC interviews to mine the foresight of knowledgeable customers. Don’t miss this B2B adjustment to Lean Startup.

Read more in this white paper, Lean Startup for B2B (page 6).

Got cool technology? Great. Just test it silently with customers.

109 Cool Technology

Avoid “technology push.” But should you just leave your technology quivering on the lab bench? Hardly. Conduct customer interviews without mentioning your technology. If customer outcomes match your technology… wonderful! Otherwise, look for different technology (for this market), or look for another market (for this technology).

More in article, Should You Develop New Products like Steve Jobs? (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth newsletter).

Good probing questions become the light that illuminates the customer’s world.

96 Illuminating Questions

Many suppliers ask “low-lumen” questions that neither illuminate nor engage customers. They may be biased, close-ended or too complex. Beware requesting sensitive information, or asking, “What would you pay for this?” When you ask for problems, don’t try to “help” with examples. Instead, let the customer choose the next topic to discuss.

Read more in article, Lean Startup: A Great Approach Requiring “B2B Pre-Work” (Originally published in B2B Organic Growth.) Lean Startup wisely recommends testing assumptions and learning from customers at the first opportunity. For most B2B suppliers, this “first opportunity” to learn comes before a prototype is created – through early voice-of-customer interviews that mine the insight and foresight of highly-knowledgeable customers.