Voice of the Customer Methods



There are many ways to listen to your customer. Breakthrough NPD provides the expertise to know what method is most appropriate for a particular objective and time in the development process. Skill is required to acquire accurate data and to avoid misleading data. Discovering the customer's needs is essential. Doing what they say is not.

The most common mistakes made by companies:

  1. Not to collect VOC at all.
  2. Incomplete VOC process -- due to insufficient time, money, or resources
  3. Not to plan: determine data needs and then match data needs with methods
  4. Collect data and then not exploit it.
  5. Misuse a method -- wrong time or for wrong objective
  6. Collect from the wrong sample.
  7. Corrupt or bias the data during collection.
  8. Misinterpret VOC data

Our list of techniques to gain valuable customer input:

(Note that purists define VOC as exclusively the one-on-one interview. We think that is the most powerful tool in our arsenal but we've gone for comprehensive. We focus on results. That means using the best tool to fit the situation at hand. Hence, the broad definition here. For a formal definition of VOC click here.)

One-on-one interactions
In depth interviews (in person, by phone or web)
Lead user interviews
Metaphor elicitation (eg. Zaltman's ZMET)
Sentence and story completion
Imagining and emoting methods (eg. using images, fantasies, analogs)

Group interactions
Focus group interviews
Small group interviews
Nominal group sessions
Lead user group interviews
Customer advisory panels
Customer events
User communities (in person and online)
Virtual markets

Anthropological or contextual methods
Experiential, Immersion
Contextual inquiry
Customer role playing
Customer shadowing, mystery shopping
Rapid prototype feedback methods

Non-interactive methods
Surveys (form, mail, phone, email, web)
Customer service input capture
Customer complaint/suggestion capture (mail, email, web)
Sales staff input capture
Scanner data
Customer listening posts

If you want to learn more Breakthrough NPD provides training and coaching as well as execution of the above VOC methods. Contact us to learn more.