5 Keys to Enhance your Voice of Customer (VOC) Study!

Voice of the customer studies are an essential part of product development, completed early as part of market requirements generation.  VOC studies help define what product and features to develop, inform a product road map and perhaps uncover a full product line. At Key Tech we started offering voice of customer studies in recent years, to complement our user research and full scope development services, and below are a few keys to enhancing the value gained when conducting them.

1 Probe for all critical background information

Identifying goals is a normal part of starting any development project. However, we make sure to ask, what is our client not considering, or not telling us? Often times clients may be so focused on their project that they miss pertinent information, or don’t share all the background that has gotten them this far. We’ve experienced this first hand, and have been close to duplicating work already done had we not been persistent; so ask these questions repeatedly and ensure you have the full picture. We seek out this work not only to prevent repeating strategic tasks but also to uncover elements of the product vision our client may be blind to because of their history with the topic.  We have found that learning all of the details, even ones the client doesn’t see as immediately relevant, can help uncover lines of questioning that are valuable to explore during questioning.

2 Identify ALL the ‘customers’

Once the goals of the study are determined, it is time to consider the best participants.  The term ‘customer’ is relative. Our main targets are most often the end-user, but who else is in the product arc? In a recent project, the users we were researching passed the product of interest through many hands in a day, with some users just interacting with it for a moment, and others spending a long time with it. In addition, managers of the user’s department had great perspective on the product’s use and the features that might enhance that use, even though they themselves rarely touched the product. In the end, it was worth it to speak with all of these groups. Sometimes the ‘user’ is not the ‘purchaser’, so its important to understand what motivates the person making the bu decision.  We always ask ourselves, ‘who is missing from potential interviewees that might have great information?’

3 Frame the questioning to get at a full picture

When introducing new topics, we consider what we need to do to get our subject’s head in the game. As we are doing this, it’s great to get a read on their reaction from a range of points of view. On a previous project, we had the opportunity to show patients very early prototypes to gain their reactions, but we also wanted to get a read on the even more basic acceptance of the treatment. We began by talking to them very abstractly about the way our technology addressed their disease and slowly let them into the bigger picture. This lets us gauge reaction to a revolutionary idea before they understood how it might be implemented. Both reactions were informative and led to a more nuanced understanding of the acceptance of this new technology.

4 Follow the nuggets via adaptive responses

Be adaptive – this is not formal usability testing. VOC studies allow for an evolution of the protocol to happen through the process of open dialogue, probative questions, and deeper discussion. Identify topics you absolutely most cover, but in real-time or through decisions made between sessions, allow for reactions to input received, present more material or questions, or present them differently. Last year we were gathering background information on departmental pain points with a subject, and they had a particularly complex situation that demanded more time than we had allotted for this area of the interview. By staying on this topic and entering into a rich dialogue, we enabled a deeper understanding than we might have gathered had we stuck to a rigid script.

5 Make the end report work for the client

We always check-in with our client before we create our final report. How can we best support the project for them? Their needs may have changed over the course of the endeavor, or they could have a high-level meeting in the next week and could use a one-page summary of the study outcome. This project can lead to additional studies or high-level product-specific documents. Our outputs are informed by what our clients need to bring the project forward.

If you are about to kick off a new project, Key Tech can help! Key Tech VOC services can uncover new insights to make your project a success. As an employee-owned company, every person at Key Tech is invested in the success of our clients. Please TalkToUs to see how we can support your product development imperatives.

Josh Hartl

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