AIM Archives - Tag: voice of customer

Want to engage B2B customers? Here are 10 ways.

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If you sell into a concentrated B2B market (one with just a few customers), your voice-of-customer interviews should have two goals: “insight” plus “engagement.” The latter is important: You want these big customers to be impressed and eager to work with you, not your competitors.

These 10 approaches help you engage your customers when interviewing them to understand their needs: 1) Kill the questionnaire. 2) Let customers lead the interview. 3) Discuss their job-to-be-done. 4) Project your notes so they can see them. 5) Focus on customer outcomes. 6) Learn how to probe deeply. 7) Don’t sell or solve. 8) Get quantitative in your VOC. 9) Use triggers to generate fresh ideas. 10) Use B2B-optimized interview tools. (See the 2-minute video, Engage your B2B customers.)

These are explained in the article, The Missing Objective in Voice of Customer Interviews

Is in-person voice-of-customer superior to virtual VOC?

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In general, we do consider in-person interviews to be the gold standard. But there are 10 advantages of virtual VOC you shouldn’t overlook: 1) lower cost, 2) reaching dispersed customers, 3) viewable probing tips, 4) training for colleagues, 5) probing suggestions, 6) assistance for note-taker, 7) rapid de-briefing, 8) easier scheduling, 9) low-impact cancellations, and 10) greater project speed. To maximize effectiveness and efficiency, you’ll be wise to blend and balance both types of VOC. (See 2-minute video, Conduct virtual customer interviews.)

More in white paper, Virtual VOC

How much does VOC (voice-of-customer) training impact your understanding of market needs?

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We studied this question in our research on B2B VOC skills, which included a survey of 300+ B2B professionals. We grouped respondents into 4 groups depending on their type of training (New Product Blueprinting or Other) and level of training (Extensive or Some).

Respondents also reported their typical new product success rates: Only 20% of those with “Some” training in “Other” methods had new product success rates over 50% (green in chart). But 80% of those with “Extensive” New Product Blueprinting training were “in the green.” Just think: Instead of one-in-five employees having successful new product track records, you could move to four-in-five with such training.

More in research report, B2B VOC Skills: Research linking 12 VOC skills to new product success

What’s the fastest way to boost your new product success rate?

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This was a question we studied in our research on B2B VOC skills, which included a survey of 300+ B2B professionals. Some respondents reported a “poor” understanding of market needs while other reported a “good” understanding.

We were surprised at the difference in the two groups’ typical new product success rates: Only 5% of the former group (with poor market understanding) reported their new products were successful over half the time. But 70% of the “good market understanders” reported better than average new product success rates. So instead of hiring more R&D, your shortest path to successful new products might be to understand market needs better.

More in research report, B2B VOC Skills: Research linking 12 VOC skills to new product success

10 Tests to reveal if you’re using Voice-of-Ourselves or Voice-of-the-Customer.

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In my experience, VOO is much more common than VOC among B2B companies today. This will surely change, given the huge advantages of B2B-optimized VOC. (See e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B.) You can learn your position on the VOO-vs.-VOC spectrum by diagnosing 10 factors: 1) interview scope, 2) interview objective, 3) types of questions, 4) note-taking, 5) interview skills, 6) observation skills, 7) companies interviewed, 8) deliverables, 9) engagement timeframe, and 10) interviewing staff.

For descriptions of all 10, see article, Why Advanced Voice of Customer Matters

Do you look at a map at the beginning or end of your journey?

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I suspect you’d rather look at a map first, and then start your journey. So why do many B2B companies develop a new product and then show it to customers? With intelligent B2B voice-of-customer interviews (see e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B), your customers are drawing a map for you: “Yes, go here and work on this outcome. No, that outcome isn’t important so don’t bother.” Granted, it’s more “daring” to ignore a map. But if you want to get to the right destination as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s better to talk to your cartographers first.

See 2-minute video, Stop leading with your solutions

Are you confusing “Concept Testing” with “Voice-of-Customer”?

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If you bring a prototype to a customer, this is “concept testing”… which is different than voice of the customer research.  Prototypes are fine later in the process, but for many companies this is their first discussion with customers. B2B concept testing should occur after front-end voice-of-customer interviews. If you start with concept testing, you’ll incur confirmation bias, less-engaged customers, and the false impression you’ve acted in a customer-centric fashion. See 2-minute video, Stop leading with your solutions.

More in article, Don’t Confuse Concept Testing With VoC

Is your company still using “Voice of Ourselves”?

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Surely nobody would brag about using VOO to develop new products. But if you aren’t having intelligent conversations with B2B customers before developing your new products, isn’t this what you’re doing? A good test is to add up your hours of internal conversations and compare with your voice-of-customer (VOC) hours. If you are not happy with the ratio, this might explain why customers are not happy with your new products.

More in e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B

Five Bonus benefits of new-product voice-of-customer interviews.

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You conduct front-end-of-innovation customer interviews so you can design a great new product, right? Well yes, but… if you do these well, you’re doing more. You’re also 1) learning the unknown unknowns, 2) unlearning the things you do know that simply aren’t true, 3) aligning your development team for action, 4) making better decisions through improved market intuition, and 5) building stronger relationships for near-term sales opportunities.

For more download e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B

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

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.

Which is better… in-person VOC or virtual VOC?

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If you compare a 2-hour in-person voice-of-customer interview to a 2-hour web-conference interview, the former wins. You can interpret body language better, build stronger relationships, and perhaps get a customer tour. But what if it took you and your interview team 10 hours of (mostly non-productive) travel time for the interview? A better question might be, “When is each type of interview most appropriate?” (See interview examples in the video at www.VOCforB2B.com.)

For 7 factors to consider, download our white paper, Virtual VOC (page 8).