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Why the Way You Collect the Voice of the Customer Matters


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Voice of the Customer may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the product management process. Unfortunately any survey or conversation with a customer these days is labeled as “Voice of the Customer” and just viewed as a “check box” item.
We will relate different Voice of the Customer approaches with project portfolio classifications for product development

Published in: Technology, Business
  • On Slide 19, I see that the iPhone addressed an unmet need for a personal computer in your pocket. Is it fair to say that was not the need, but more a solution to a need? Or better to say, a solution to multiple jobs-to-be-done?

    Before the iPhone, there was a clearly addressed need around email. Blackberry gave us that. But Blackberry fell down on other jobs-to-be-done:
    - I want to listen to music
    - I want to read my favorite websites
    - I want to play games
    - I want to access productivity apps
    - I want to get directions when I'm driving

    Etc. Those were the needs. Not so much latent. Not articulated for sure. But they were jobs (i.e. needs, wants) that were out there. RIM just did a lousy job addressing them.
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  • I will be presenting a webinar on voice of the customer on Dec. 6. Hope you can join us!
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  • Spiro-Level (TM) looks very similar to the Spiral Model for software development ( Not sure there's any 'disruptive innovation' going on here beyond applying an existing methodology to a related field and giving it a fancy (and trademarked?) name.
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Why the Way You Collect the Voice of the Customer Matters

  1. 1. Jose A. Briones, Ph.D. Twitter: @Brioneja
  2. 2. Agenda  In this discussion we will describe how there are different approaches to collecting the Voice of the Customer and how the misapplications of each approach will unintentionally bias the results that are obtained.  We will present three different approaches for voice-of-thecustomer surveys: Product features, job-to-be-done and unmet needs.  These different VOC approaches will be correlated with project portfolio classifications for different levels of innovation—incremental, radical or disruptive.  Recommendations for how to apply them in different segments of the value chain will also be provided. Twitter: @Brioneja
  3. 3. Background  Product innovation has been described as the way out of today‘s difficult business environment.  The rate of success of development projects, in particular disruptive innovation projects remains too low.  We believe that a reason for the low success rate is the erroneous application of analysis methods designed for incremental innovation to projects with high levels of uncertainty Twitter: @Brioneja
  4. 4. Clayton M. Christensen We keep rediscovering that the root reason for established companies’ failure to innovate is that managers don’t have good tools to help them understand markets, build brands, find customers, select employees, organize teams, and develop strategy” • “There’s a better way for management teams to grow their companies. But they will need the courage to challenge some of the paradigms of analysis and the willingness to develop alternative methodologies” Twitter: @Brioneja
  5. 5. C. Christensen‘s Disruptive Innovation Models Twitter: @Brioneja Twitter: @Brioneja
  6. 6. Relationship Between Innovation Level and Project Type Level 1 • Disruptive Innovations Level 2 • Platform Launches / Radical Innovations Level 3 • Incremental innovations & individual product launches Twitter: @Brioneja
  7. 7. Introduction  Voice of the Customer may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the product management process.  Unfortunately any survey or conversation with a customer these days is labeled as ―Voice of the Customer‖ and just viewed as a ―check box‖ item. Twitter: @Brioneja
  8. 8. Introduction  Conflicting Advice:  Specific questions vs. open- ended questions  Talk to your customers vs. don‘t talk to your customers  Problem: We can‘t interrogate our customers for 48-hours straight. Twitter: @Brioneja
  9. 9. Introduction  You have to make choices, and what you actually ask your customers can predetermine the type of answers and information you get  The end result is that everybody who talks to customers thinks, ―Oh well, I got the voice of the customer. I‘m done.‖ Twitter: @Brioneja
  10. 10. Henry Ford and VOC  Henry Ford and his affordable automobiles also can be thought of as disruptive innovation.  He is often quoted as saying, ―If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.‖  That quote is often badly misused, implying that since he wanted to bring something very different to the market, his customers were not the right people to talk to. Twitter: @Brioneja
  11. 11. Henry Ford and VOC  But it‘s not about not talking to customers, it‘s about how you talk to them.  If he had asked them exactly what they wanted, sure they would have said faster horses.  But in reality, a good product manager would interpret that as ―I need faster transportation.‖ Twitter: @Brioneja
  12. 12. Henry Ford and VOC  That‘s what the customers are trying to tell you, but they don‘t know how to because all they know is horses.  Ford did not follow a literal response from the customer. He actually listened to what they were saying the unmet need was. Twitter: @Brioneja
  13. 13. VOC Types  Clayton Christensen: Customers do not buy products, they hire products to do a job.  Define the job your product is hired to do and the benefit your customer gets from it  Harvard School Professor Theodore Leavitt: ―People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.‖  Compares product features vs. job-to-be-done.  However, there is a step further: Sometimes the customer doesn‘t even know he needs to make a hole.  The hole is a means of helping to solve a problem. Twitter: @Brioneja
  14. 14. Voice of the Customer Types Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 • Unmet Needs – KJ Analysis • Job to be Done • Product Features Twitter: @Brioneja
  15. 15. Voice of the Customer Styles Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 • Broad, Open-ended, Shallow • Hybrid Approach • Narrow, Focused, Deep Twitter: @Brioneja
  16. 16. Unmet Needs  Sometimes your customer cannot provide you with enough information about what they need.  The job of the voice-of-the-customer survey here is to articulate that unmet need, and then come up with a solution.  Nobody can describe what they want or need before they really have it. Twitter: @Brioneja
  17. 17. Unmet Needs  The questions you ask and even observations on how people interact with their surroundings with their equipment can help you define that need.  If a genie in a bottle granted you three wishes what would they be?  The drill customer that still does not know he/she needs to make a hole  Need to understand the problem and the need! Twitter: @Brioneja
  18. 18. Unmet Needs - KJ Analysis  Relies on user observation  Structures a large number of user statements and provides relations between the statements Twitter: @Brioneja
  19. 19. Unmet Needs  Unmet needs surveys tend to correlate with ―disruptive innovation,‖ which offers improvements or benefits along a different dimension.  For example, the unmet need for the iPhone was an easy-to-use personal computer in your pocket, but it was not clearly articulated. Twitter: @Brioneja
  20. 20. Job To Be Done  In the quarter-inch drill scenario, the customer knows they need to make a hole and therefore has a fair idea of the job that needs to be done. They just don't have a solution.  The idea here is not that you come up with one of your products as a recommendation.  First, understand the job, then go back to your company and see if you even have a product that can do the job. Perhaps it's not the right opportunity for you. Twitter: @Brioneja
  21. 21. Job To Be Done  The "job-to-be-done" approach plumbs the deeper motivations surrounding use of your product. Understand that, and you can design products that attach themselves more closely to satisfying customers' needs. Hutch Carpenter  How deep is the hole you need? How fast do you need to make it? Twitter: @Brioneja
  22. 22. Job To Be Done  Job-to-be-done questions tend to correlate with ―radical innovation,‖ a quantum leap in performance along the same performance parameters  One example is plasma vs. cathode ray tube TVs.  You‘re still watching TV, and there‘s no fundamental difference in behavior. But there‘s a quantum-leap improvement in technology and performance Twitter: @Brioneja
  23. 23. Product Features  This line of questions revolves around specific product features and attributes.  It is often tied to ―incremental innovation,‖ when you are introducing a new product within your existing market and customer base.  Blackberry was known for this, churning out phones with slightly improved features, until they were hit by disruptive innovations like the iPhone. Twitter: @Brioneja
  24. 24. Product Features  When you are approaching an incremental innovation, you need to be very focused to get the product into the marketplace quickly.  You should already know the people using your products and understand their needs.  You should focus on product features and design the survey questions around that.  Asking questions about how they currently interact with your product can help you determine what can be improved. Twitter: @Brioneja
  25. 25. Product Features What color do you need the drill to be?  What should the price be?  How heavy should it be  Electricity or battery?  Twitter: @Brioneja
  26. 26. VOC Dependency On Value Chain Raw Materials Supplier  Manufacturer Converter Retailer Consumer As innovation moves from incremental to disruptive, VOC should be obtained further down or parallel to the value chain, away from current customers Twitter: @Brioneja
  27. 27. Voice of the Customer Targets Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 • Blue Ocean Segments • Adjacent Segments/Lead Users • Existing Customer Base Twitter: @Brioneja
  28. 28. IDEO KJ Analysis of Eclipse Aviation Prototype  To design a brand new aircraft the size of an SUV, a design team from Ideo asked pilots to test a a mock-up with Post-it Note controls • Source: Business Week Twitter: @Brioneja
  29. 29. IDEO KJ Analysis of Eclipse Aviation Prototype  Early research identified multiple problems with the existing design. From a usability perspective Twitter: @Brioneja
  30. 30. IDEO KJ Analysis of Eclipse Aviation Prototype  The team built a "mockpit" – a prototype cockpit with foam core controllers and Post-it Note instruments that they invited Eclipse test pilot Bill Bubb to "fly" Twitter: @Brioneja
  31. 31. IDEO KJ Analysis of Eclipse Aviation Prototype  As the designers gained flying knowledge, they would move Post-its — representing instruments — around on a printout of the cockpit panel, testing different positions and groupings to find the optimal layout Twitter: @Brioneja
  32. 32. IDEO KJ Analysis of Eclipse Aviation Prototype  Eclipse Aviation's current design for the 500's instrument panel reflects many of Ideo's recommendations Twitter: @Brioneja
  33. 33. VOC Tips – Deborah Mills Scofield  Go to listen – open-ended questions – don‘t presuppose (which is so hard) and don‘t send just send the sales guy in!!!!! –  Do ‗day in the life‘ – follow them around as they do their jobs –  if it‘s B2C, watch then shop, watch how kids pile into a minivan, SUV, what they eat, do with the trash etc. – how a plumber does their thing etc. –  if B2B, how they order your stuff, get help with your stuff, get rid of your stuff, etc. – just follow them around and shut up at first and then ask questions about HOW, not how you‘d do it Twitter: @Brioneja
  34. 34. Summary  There are 3 different types of VOC surveys and approaches  The type of VOC approach used will predetermine the type of answers and information you get  It is important to match the right VOC approach to the right type of development project Twitter: @Brioneja
  35. 35. Conclusion  Henry Ford did not follow a literal response from the customer. He actually listened to what they were saying the unmet need was.  But even if he had taken it literally, he would have seen voice of the customer for the valuable tool it is. There really is a need for faster horses too. Twitter: @Brioneja
  36. 36. Contact Information   Twitter: @Brioneja  Twitter: @Brioneja
  37. 37. References 1. The Entrepreneurial Mindset, 2000, 2. Innovation Killers, 2008, 3. The Eclipse: Safety By Design 416.htm 4. IDEO‘s Shopping Cart Video Twitter: @Brioneja
  38. 38. Attribute Map Questions  Non Negotiable:  Which three non negotiable attributes are the most expensive to deliver? Can we do something creative to reduce their cost, particularly in ways that competitors can‘t imitate?  Differentiator  Why does this segment buy from us and not the competition?  What do we offer that customers not only like but are prepared to pay a premium for?  What do distributors and customers say we do better than anyone else?  How close is the competition to matching us on these features?  Exciter  If a genie in a bottle granted us one wish that would allow us to redesign our product or service and add or enhance an attribute in such a way that we could capture huge market share, what would we wish for? Is this within the realm of the possible for us? Twitter: @Brioneja
  39. 39.  Tolerable  What features would our most important customer segments list if we asked them to complete the following sentence: ―If only you could eliminate ________ from your offering, I would buy a lot more often‖  Can we get rid of a tolerable in ways that competitors can‘t? How?  Are we experiencing increasing complaints on this tolerable?  To what extent are target customers beginning to compare us unfavorably with the competition?  Dissatisfier  On what subject do people who interact with customers hear     the most rumbling? Is it something all providers do, or something only we do? To what extent is this attribute a key reason for recent customer defections? To what extent is this attribute increasingly cited as a key reason for product returns? To what extent are our competitors advertising their superiority with respect to this attribute? Twitter: @Brioneja
  40. 40.  Enrager  Are people who are in contact with customers observing reactions that go beyond minor irritation to enraging?  Have customer written letters of complaint or otherwise been proactively critical of this feature?  So What?  Look at every expensive attribute and ask what its elimination or reduction would do to sales ○ Why do we offer those attributes? ○ Are there any cost/complexity-reduction opportunities associated with getting rid of them? ○ What are the three most expensive ―nice to haves‖ we offer – that is, features that we believe to be necessary but that customers appear unwilling to pay for? ○ Is there a competitive reason to keep these features, or could we eliminate them? Twitter: @Brioneja
  41. 41. Price Sensitivity Analysis At what price would it be so cheap that quality is doubted?  At what price would you consider this product to be a bargain – a great value for the money?  At what price would it start getting expensive, but still worth considering?  At what price is it so expensive that it would not be considered at all?  Twitter: @Brioneja