We often talk with product managers and marketers who are eager to conduct market research to understand their customers better. Despite their excitement, some face internal push-back from firm leaders, who wonder if it is worth the time, effort and money to complete a Voice of the Customer (VOC) study. A well-executed VOC market research project is almost always worth it; so how can you convince your leaders?
1. Listen to the needs of your stakeholders
Much like a good Voice of the Customer project involves listening to your customers’ wants and needs, a strong influencing campaign involves listening to your leaders’ perspectives. What is most important to them? How might your VOC initiative provide them value and help them meet their own goals?
Start by understanding what your leaders care about most, and where their biggest organizational concerns lie. If your initial vision for your VOC project doesn’t directly address your stakeholders’ problems, think about how you can modify the scope so the initiative benefits everyone. For example, imagine you’re responsible for improving the look and feel of your product, and you’re planning to conduct a detailed assessment of your customers’ needs to inform the new design. If, however, one of the key stakeholders in your organization is interested in the product’s functionality, you can easily add in a few questions to satisfy their needs as well.
Often, adding a few additional topic areas to your qualitative discussion guide or quantitative survey can provide stakeholders with key information they can’t get elsewhere. This can help clear the path to approval for your project.
2. Explain how VOC reduces risk and increases confidence
One of the main benefits of VOC research is that it helps mitigate your risks. Often leaders are afraid to take risks when it comes to innovating products or services. VOC market research can help to ease those fears and help you envision how customers will likely respond to change. If you’re focusing on the needs of your current and prospective customers, you are more likely to:
- Create a product that surprises and delights the customer
- Understand how different types of customers will respond to your updated service
- Build messaging that taps into critical needs
- Prioritize product features in the “right” way
- Avoid building a “me too” service that just copies off your competition
Voice of the Customer research allows you to make strategic decisions by uncovering critical customer needs. By defining and better understanding those wants and needs, the entire organization can create a better strategy for moving forward.3. Emphasize that VOC builds a common vision
Good Voice of the Customer research benefits people across the organization. It can help you build a common vision and shared strategic goals. It also has specific use for people in particular roles:
- Product management stakeholders will learn customers’ most important wants and needs and areas of focus
- Sales and marketing stakeholders will learn what types of customers feel particular needs most acutely
- Customer experience stakeholders will learn where customers experience their most critical needs during their purchase journey
- PR/advertising stakeholders will learn what customer needs to focus on when building advertising messages
- Engineering and manufacturing will learn what needs to focus on when defining specifications
Building a common vision and voice can also come through Voice of the Customer training. We often find that people from many different roles at an organization attend VOC training. From engineers, to sales representatives and marketing managers, VOC training can be beneficial to all.
4. VOC can fit into a budget and is worth the spend
Often, budget can be a major roadblock when it comes to leadership buy-in. However, in our experience, a well-executed market research study pays for itself over time. By truly understanding your customers’ needs, you are able to spend less time addressing product and service missteps, and ultimately bring in more revenue.
Of course, budget is always a key part of any market research engagement – whether you’re completing the project with an internal team or outsourcing to a 3rd party partner. To convince your stakeholders that this is money well spent, start by determining exactly what you’ll learn from the engagement. Outline how you’ll use the results and provide estimates of how much your company might gain if they make the right product or marketing decision – and compare it to estimate of how much they’ll lose if they make the wrong choices. Often, comparing the potential benefits of completing a market research study with the potential downsides of not can convince stakeholder that the spend is worth it.
Need more help convincing your leadership team that Voice of the Customer research is right for your organization? Learn more about our customizable private trainings: