Voice of customer – It is not about asking the customer what they want in the product. It is about gaining deep insight & appreciation for the customers experience.I am not selling” (so don’t take sales people)I am researching how to deploy my development resources for next yearDon’t get the customer to come to your office, go to theirs. It will help you observe their work environment.How they work, what tools do they use, how is the setup etc.
Know the objectives for your customer visits. Maybe you have general idea of the marketplace and need to understand more Or validate your assumptions. Emerging marketsNew – are you trying to make your product easier to use for first time usersExperienced – are you trying to determine advanced features you can provide in your product so that experienced users can become more productive & comfortable with your productKnowing your objectives and who you are talking with is imp. You have limited time and money. So utilize this effectivelyProspect – emerging markets, someone who has not bought your product Engineer vs. Manager – someone in the trenches who uses your product or someone who doesNot know the details but know the higher level objectives that need to be achieved using your productSource for names – sales, support, services. At trade shows, promote your customer visit program.Solicit info – ask if they would be interested in talking with you. Surveys etc.Customer Research - Website – what products & services they offerBug reports & enhancements statusKnow who has visited or talked with them
Ask “open ended questions” that focus on the objectives for learningStart at a high level and “drill down” on each question for optimal understandingNeed to be careful with your “why” questions – could be perceived as challenging questionsCustomers usually tend to propose solutions, not state problems.
Listen …ListenDo not get defensive about a problem in the productThey may not know all the enhancements, product features. Do not interrupt your interview to show what is there.Do that after the customer has finished. The last thing they say might Give you insight into how the feature solves only half the issue etc.Try to understand what is the most pressing issues – priortizationWhat can go wrong ?Current issues/pet enhancementsDiscussion goes on a tangentRips your company …product, services, people, qualityContradictory positionsTalk about another product
It is very important to capture customer quotes. Nothing like “Joe Brown of XYZ inc – this is what he said …”Qualitative conclusionsNot quantitative. You might have to follow up, do surveys etc.
Market Analysis• Listen and observe what is going on in the market. The expertise gained with these activities provides a foundation to guide decisions throughout the product definition and launch phases
Purpose• What it is for - – Discover unmet needs – Discover how customers use your product today – Discover where your product fits in the customers ecosystem• What it is not for – Selling your product (I am not selling – So no sales people) – Not about asking the customer what they want in the product
Before you talk• Source for names• Objectives & Profile who you are going to talk – New vs. Experienced users – Customer vs. Prospect – User vs. Economic Buyer/Technical Buyer – Engineer/User vs. Manager• Qualify the customer you want to talk to• Clear it with sales staff• Know about the company• Know what communication they have had with your company• Develop a list of questions to ask• Communicate the purpose to the customer
Asking Questions• Open Ended – Engage the customer to provide insight• “What” questions – focus on events – What problems have you experienced…? – What drives you crazy about your job? (market problems) – What neat products have you seen lately? (technology assessment) – What do you think of my company and product? (distinctive competence)• “How” questions – focus on process of doing things – How do you use…? – How do you prepare…?• “Why” questions – questions that require explanation – Why is that…? – Why do you…?• “Who” questions – insight into influence – Who do you listen to for market trends? (market research) – Who are my competitors and what do you think of them? (competitive analysis)
Asking questions• “Could” questions – gentle, open conversation – Could you give me an example…? – Could you walk through this…?• Avoid – – Closed ended – prompting ‘yes’/’no’ responses • “Do” you think this is a problem? • “Are” you going to…? • “Can” you do this…? – Asking for pet enhancements – Leading questions • If this is done this way …will it satisfy your need? • Don’t you think this is better than the other? – Biased questions • We are thinking about this idea, what do you think about it?
Observe• Observe users – Start with an open agenda – Understand “a day in the life…” – When do they pick up a pencil? – How do they buy technology? – How do they survive without your technology? – Observe regular people who use your product daily – What is the customer experience like? – Look for “moments of truth”
Take away• Notes, notes, notes• Wrap up – Debrief the group – Top 5 points – Compare with other visits – Thank the customers & permission for later visit/question – File your individual reports for sharing it with groups – Send summary/report of conclusion of all visits – Build next steps• Customer quotes• Get in-depth understanding of user needs• Clear perspective for establishing product development priorities• Authoritative knowledge of your target market
The bottom line Get out of your office!You won’t learn anything about problemsin the market by sitting at your deskThe building is full of product expertsYour company needs market experts