AIM Archives - Tag: voice of customer

Overwhelm your competitors by turning a trickle of customer feedback into a torrent.

399-Torrent

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

All great VOC interviews are alike; every unhappy interview is unhappy in its own way.

394-Interview

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

Want to engage B2B customers? Here are 10 ways.

383-Engage-Customers

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?

375-Virtual-Discovery-Interview

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?

360-VOC-Training

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?

356-Understand-Market-Needs

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.

350-VOC-or-VOO

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?

349-Look-at-Map

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”?

348-Concept-Testing

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”?

346-VOC-or-VOO

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.

325-Five-bonuses

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.

321-Step-wise-VOC-skills

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.

320-Fast-follower

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?

319-Virtual-interview

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