4 Quick Tips on Successful VoC Programs
Shoshana Burgett has spent much of her career advising and creating Voice of Customer programs at Fortune 500 companies. She shares a few tips for successfully capturing insights and putting them to good use throughout your organization.
Tip #1: Avoid bias during blind interviews.
Minimize bias in VoC by conducting blind interviews where the customers, industry experts, or other market leaders are unaware of who they are communicating with. In blind interviews, customers are less likely to unconsciously tailor the conversation to a particular provider, thus leading to more valuable insights.
When conducting a blind interview, never state any company names. You may assume company ABC is your biggest competitor, but if you ask a broader question like ‘who are the biggest competitors in pharmaceutical-grade equipment?’, you might learn about new or adjacent players in the space. There were many times when my companies discovered that what we thought were our biggest competitors were not in line with what we actually heard from customers.
Tip #2: Don’t challenge your customers' behavior. Empathize with them.
VoC is about asking unbiased questions and listening to your customers; not about proving a point. When conducting this type of qualitative research, your customer should be talking 80% of the time.
Never ask things like ‘Do you like product X, or how much do you need feature Y?’ These are leading questions. Make your questions broader, for example, ‘How often would you use feature Y?’ Follow up with validating questions, such as asking for recent examples of when feature X would potentially be useful.
Tip #3: Conduct in-person research when you need specificity.
While your customer may explicitly tell you something ‘they need’, the information you gain by observing customers enables you to identify the implicit unmet needs that can help differentiate your offering.
Observe how customers use your products. Insights can come from watching what they do with it. R&D may have an assumption of how customers use their products only to find out they use it very differently. You could find a customer leaving post-it notes all over their desk to remind them of steps that may not be intuitive to them.
Tip #4 Commit to making VoC part of your company culture.
Listening to customers and observing the market is not a single person’s role and responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility from the top down. For many companies, thinking in terms of VoC is a change in corporate culture. If VoC is built into the culture it moves from a one-time exercise to an ongoing activity that employees are constantly thinking and applying.
Engage teammates to participate in VoC even if it is not their product. Discrepant teams can learn from one another’s customer’s needs. They can bring a new perspective and view because they work on a different product and have a different vantage point. The other person may be able to provide insights or share a similar issue and how they approached solving the problem. Diversity breeds creativity; think outside your core team.