Traditional VOC relies on questionnaires, tape recorders and post-interview analyses. That’s fine for B2C, but your B2B customers are insightful, rational, interested and fewer in number. They’re smart and will make you smarter if you engage them in a peer-to-peer fashion, take notes with a digital projector, skillfully probe, and let them lead you.
More in 2-minute video at 14. Understand your B2B advantages
After presenting conclusions from months of VOC research, a marketer’s boss said, “No… I think customers want this instead.” A terrible reaction, but why did it happen? The marketer had no hard data—just quotes, impressions and anecdotes. You’ll be more believable, confident and correct—with unfiltered, quantitative customer data.
More in 2-minute video at 27. Quantitative interviews are a must
Cross “interview guide” off your packing list and add “digital projector.” The former indicates you—not the customer—will be guiding the interview. Not good. Project your notes and let the customer tell you their next problem or ideal state: You’ll learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know, they’ll correct your notes, and they’ll be much more engaged.
More in 2-minute video at 29. Engage your B2B customers
Companies like to talk about the voice-of-the-customer, but most just listen to themselves as they create “conference room” products. The team gathers internally to decide for the customer what they’ll want in a new product. This team will always lose to the team that immerses itself in the customer experience, and designs a product to improve that experience.
More in 2-minute video at 22. Immerse your team in customer outcomes
Do you like to answer surveys at home? How about at work? How do you think customers feel about filling in your questionnaire? Forget your list of brilliant questions. Instead, learn to brilliantly probe whatever customers want to tell you. You’ll be rewarded by customers who actually want to talk to you.
More in e-book, www.reinventingvocforb2b.com (page 2)
If you ran a zoo, you’d keep your jungle animals and farm animals in separate enclosures, right? Your technology development projects are untamed, jungle animals: You don’t completely understand them, and you’re not sure what they’ll do or where they’ll go next. Your product development projects are predictable farm animals. You know what they’re supposed to do, and who they’re supposed to do it for.
When you commercialize technology, you are “domesticating” wild animals for productive purposes. As a first step, you must be crystal clear which type of project your scientists or engineers are working on at any point in time. Remember, technology development turns money into knowledge; product development turns knowledge back into money. You can learn more from this white paper, Commercialize technology in 6 foolproof steps.
More in this 2-minute video, How to pursue transformational projects
Bucket #1 is Technology Development… science-facing innovation that turns money into knowledge. Bucket #2 is Product Development… market-facing innovation that turns knowledge back into money. Bucket #3 is Process Development… optimizing the production of existing products to make money more efficiently. Don’t focus on customer needs for Bucket #1 (it’s too early) or #3 (it’s too late)… but do this very well for Bucket #2. In the entire money-making process, this is your greatest point of leverage today.
More in article, Target Customer Needs and Win
Do you clearly distinguish between technology development and product development? Technology development is science-facing, while product development is market-facing. Technology development turns money into knowledge, and product development turns knowledge back into money. Keep technology and product development separate if you want to avoid confusion and inefficiency. Milestones on a Gantt chart are great for product development, but good luck scheduling technical breakthroughs in your lab.
More in article, Timing is Everything (p6).
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
Do your new product development teams deal only with facts? Or are “factoids” interspersed, cleverly hiding among the facts? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a factoid as “an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” Better to clearly identify and separate your assumptions from facts at the onset of your project… and rigorously investigate the assumptions until your project is based on facts alone.
More in video De-risking Transformational Projects
What’s the net present value of accelerating the launch of a $5 million revenue-per-year product by one month? About $80,000… or $4000 per business day. Yet we often hinder teams’ progress with organizational friction: travel bans, spending freezes, hiring delays, new assignments, re-organizations, new initiatives, frequent changes in strategy. Consider these actions carefully lest you turn exciting innovation into a mind-numbing slog.
More in article, Accelerate New Product Innovation
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
The Oxford Dictionary defines a factoid as an item of unreliable information that is repeated so often it becomes accepted as fact. Too often in product development, what we view as a fact is just a factoid. Its fine to have assumptions, but make sure they don’t dress up as facts. What you think you know is more dangerous than what you know you think.
View video, De-risking Transformational Projects
The human brain likes to diverge first (look at all these deserts), and then converge (the chocolate lava cake, please). We shortcut this highly-effective approach when we begin by asking customers if they like our idea, hypothesis, or prototype. First, diverge with an open-minded exploration of all customer needs in B2B-optimized, voice-of-customer interviews. When you converge in a later round of interviews, do so quantitatively, so your confirmation bias doesn’t kick in.
More in e-book, Leader’s Guide to B2B Organic Growth (Lesson 16).