Here are some approaches you may want to consider building into your new product development process.
1. Kill the questionnaire. Do you like to see people come to your home with a survey? Do you have moreor even lesstime at work for surveys? Of course customers want to avoid such interviews.
2. Let customers lead. I recently did an interview where I asked for problems and ideal states. Period. I kept asking, "What else?" and let them take me wherever they wanted to go. We got 64 ideas. Some were absolute gems I wouldn't have thought of in several lifetimes.
3. Discusstheir "job." Don't set up the interview to discuss your product; it should be about some job customers want to accomplish. After the interview, you might address those "jobs" with a new or enhanced product, service, or business model.
4. Project your notes. Use a digital projectora VOC approach pioneered by AIMso customers can correct you in real time. When you do this, you'll notice the meeting becomes their show. You're simply a skilled and helpful facilitator.
5. Focus on outcomes. The primary objective of qualitative VOC is to uncover and understand as many possible "outcomes"desired customer end-resultsas possible. This is what customers love to talk about. Everything else is clutter to be minimized or eliminated.
6. Probeâ€¦ deeply. You don't truly understand a customer outcome until you know how to measure it. AIM has developed customer-engaging methods to let you replicate their experiences in your labs. Very powerful for competitive analysis and new product design.
7. Don't sell or solve. If you sell during a discovery interview, you'll destroy your credibility. If you solve during the interview, you'll jeopardize your intellectual property. Do either and you'll waste precious time better spent uncovering customer outcomes.
8. Get quantitative. If you do only qualitative VOC, you may hear only what you want to hear. You need unfiltered, unbiased customer ratings on importance and current satisfaction. High-importance, low-satisfaction outcomes are the only ones they'll pay you to improve.
9. Use triggers. Skilled brainstorming facilitators use trigger methods to generate about 30 percent more ideas. Your triggers can help customers think differently about their processes, trends, andnew ways to improve profitability. You get more outcomes, and customers get freehelp from a facilitator.
About the Author:
Dan Adams, president of Advanced Industrial Marketing, is all about B2B product development. His free e-book, Reinventing VOC for B2B: 12 New Rules from New Product Blueprinting, reveals a new way for B2B companies to think about VOC, and his 2008 hardcover book, New Product Blueprinting: The Handbook for B2B Organic Growth (www.newproductblueprinting.com), clarifies the "fuzzy front end" ofinnovation.
To learn more about LEAn and its many concepts contact the LEAN Accountants of McKonly and Asbury, LLP.