A best practice VoC study is very similar to playing a game of eight ball. You must pocket the balls in order. The game is lost if you pocket ball eight before pocketing balls one to seven.
In a VoC study, each step supplies the information required to perform the next step. If the quality of the output of a step does not meet best practice standards the end result might be useless or even misleading.
The 8-Step-VoC-Road map
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Best-In-Class VoC program
1. Refine customer segments and Personas
Products aimed at unclear or broadly defined segments are never rewarded with premium prices. Therefore, it is important first to define the customer. The customer must be defined in a clear, visual and concise way that can be communicated and understood across the whole organization and guide the value innovation process.
The persona summarizes and highlights unique and important characteristics of the key customers in the customer chain and important facts about the market segment.
The persona allows information about the customers and the business context to be shared in a clear and sustainable way.
Listen to the voice
Study the behavior
Experience the situation
2. Explore customer value
of the customer
There are only three principal methods for exploring customer value. All three methods must be used, as they all supply each other with complementary information. The three principal methods are:
asking the customer via interviews, focus groups and similar activities
observing the customer and studying his/her background, history and business
putting yourself in the customer's shoes by performing the same activities the customer must do by ordering, installing, operating, servicing and repairing the product.
Try to capture and describe the customer needs and resource concerns without distortions, misinterpretations or the addition of your own evaluations. This information can be captured in many ways, but the most common method is in the form of short phrases. For example:
"The product should require a minimum amount of service."
3. Compress value stories
Customer needs and resource concerns (value stories) form the building blocks of the affinity diagram. When dealing with value stories it is also important not only capture today's situation but also to create a picture of future needs and resource concerns. What will the customers require the day the new product, service or software is launched?
As well as spoken needs and resource concerns, the customers also have hidden or unspoken ones which should also be pinpointed and taken into consideration.
Use the affinity diagram to structure and compress the information to a manageable size. Overview and focus are essential.
The gathering, documentation and compilation of customer needs and resource concerns must be done through a systematic process if a credible final result is to be achieved.
4. Compile the deck of Value cards
You need a simple, fun and accurate process for having the customers to prioritize value stories (customer needs and resource concerns) and benchmark your solutions ability as well as your competitor’s ability to satisfy them. We use a simple method with Value cards which has proven to be very effective in practice.
Value cards use gamification methods to overcome questionnaire fatigue. Five different game mechanics increase the customers motivation, participation and engagement. The game mechanics will enhance the customers learning experience as well as the quality of the output.
For practical reasons, it is impossible to have the customer evaluate more than 25 Value cards.
5. Establish customer profiling data
Your ability to analyze the data later is determined by what type of customer profiling data you collect.
It is not only important to know who said what but also have additional facts about the customer, his/her experience, the usage or environment where the product, service or software is being used.
The variables defining your customer segments must, of course, be included in the profiling data, as well as other important characteristics of the customers and business context.
6. Invite customers to prioritize and benchmark
It is essential to select a balanced mix of customers to avoid bias in the data. There is an obvious risk that only the most faithful and loyal customers are invited to participate. This will bias your data and provide a false sense of security as your weaknesses will not be exposed.
The sample size required is a complicated question to answer. It depends among other things on the number of subgroups you want to analyze,
the cost of each sample, the variability of the population, how many customers that exist in the segments and what you are going to use the data for.
In general, the more precision you want the larger the sample size. Sample sizes under 30 customers should always be avoided.
7. Mine the data
In a VoC project, insight comes before data. Already in the first interview, months ago, learning´s started and valuable insights were discovered. Now you get all the data required to back up the insights and better explain the underlying reasons why. It is time to become a truly data-driven organization.
You need good software support to be able to dig deep into the data and sharpen the analysis. We have developed software modules that could help you with that.
8. Sharpen sales strategies and develop product with unrivalled customer value
Step 8 is about turning the customer insights into products and services with unrivalled customer value. The concept we advocate for this is the Value Model. A proven method used by many organisations, globally. The Value Model is a work model for creating and carrying out projects in which creativity is a prerequisite for success. It defines world-class development work that ensures profitable organic growth for the benefits of customers, employees and shareholders alike.
The Value Model has the ultimate objective to create value in terms of:
unrivaled customer value in new products and services
business values in form of growth and profitability
soft values in the way of in-depth relationships and increased knowledge.
Visit the Value Model home page for more information
Common mistake: Data is more important than insight
People tend to rush through the first six steps going for the statistically hard facts coming out of step 7.
However, the purpose of a VoC study is not only to get hard facts. Even more important is to get deep insights about customer needs. And insights come gradually already from day one. By rushing through the first six steps, important insights are lost, and the quality of the hard facts are reduced.
Common mistake: Ad-Hoc VoC behavior
Time and resources required to go through all eight steps a first time are substantial and many times a real challenge for organisations. At step 8 people are tired and therefore treat step 8 as the end of the VoC.
However, the resources required to manage and keep the data alive are usually surprisingly small. A small investment to become a top performer. Best-in-Class companies are more strategic and put the VoC data into action to continuously enhance the customer experience and customer value.
Common mistake: Internal perspective
The whole purpose of a VoC is to help your customers better fulfill their needs - or in other words - create more customer value. That process should start already with the VoC itself. The whole VoC must be a fruitful learning experience also for your customers and not a burden.
A best practice VoC helps you grow your business as well as your customer relationships. Do not prioritize what is convenient for you. Prioritize what is enjoyable and fruitful for your customers!
You can not apply value-based selling to customers who do not understand their needs. Therefore a best practice VoC should also increase the customer's awareness of the most important needs and thereby pave the way for value-based selling.
Customer perceived value
Your value proposition
Why some VoC studies fail!
The lazy bones tendency
We prioritize internal efficiency instead of customer experience.
The poor training mistake
The information and data captured in the customer visits is trivial and shallow.
The ignorance is bliss phenomenon
We underestimate the influence of bias in the data.
The we know best syndrome
We think we know what to ask about and can use a traditional questionnaire.
The shortcut temptation
We tend to ask about technical features or performance levels which are needed for the specification.
The accuracy trap
We select an over simplified method and get exact answers but miss the irreplaceable nuances.
Best-In-Class VoC program
The 8-Step-VoC process explained
This video is module 7 in the Customer value challenge. The first six modules in the Customer value challenge is describing how to transform the concept of customer value into a concrete and practical tool to drive your success.