How to Build a Team of VOC Champions

By Carmel Dibner

Formal Voice of the Customer (VOC) training and coaching can help align your team around the importance of VOC and the skills needed to carry out a successful project. By identifying and training a strong “Champion” team, you can ensure that addressing critical unmet customer needs is central to your product development initiatives.

 

A “Champion” team should consist of a carefully selected bench of players. Consider including a diverse group of team members representing all relevant organizational departments to participate in the process. It is well-known that diversity of experience, skills and thought are important when selecting any high functioning team. Also, to ensure buy-in from the organization, it’s important to select at least one representative from each stakeholder division. By doing this, you are likely to have evangelists throughout the organization who can speak to the validity and benefits of conducting VOC.

 

Consider establishing a core team of 5-8 individuals from product development, engineering, marketing, sales, and beyond. This number ensures that the work can be distributed among enough individuals but also limits social loafing, the idea that people avoid responsibility and decrease their effort in large groups.

 

While the “Champion” team will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the VOC initiative, it’s wise to involve all stakeholders in a broader team. These stakeholders should attend key meetings at the onset where the scope of the project is defined, and they should agree to the purpose of the project. They should have a voice at the table and should be aware of what is in scope and out of scope for the project. While not involved in the execution of the project, by including them at the onset, they will be more invested in the results at the conclusion of the project. They will believe in the goals and process. Additionally, there will be no surprises in terms of the breadth and depth of what the research will cover.

 

A single project leader should be selected to help keep the project on track. This individual will be responsible for ensuring that the project adheres to the VOC best practices as taught. They are also on point for selecting the team, deciding on the division of labor, and maintaining the project schedule. The project leader will ultimately be responsible for the successful completion of the project. They should treat this endeavor as an important job responsibility for the duration of the project. This will inevitably mean taking other responsibilities off their plate, medium term, so they can devote the time needed to ensure success.

 

Each department should understand how their involvement can contribute to the success of the project. One way to do this is to request that a representative from each department on the core team review the discussion guide and the list of questions to be asked. This will ensure that the interviews will answer key questions of particular interest to them. For example, engineering would best be positioned to provide input related to questions around features and functionality. In contrast, marketing is best equipped to select the questions to ask around messaging, claims, etc. The input of all these groups will strengthen the discussion guide. While many may provide input, the feedback should be consolidated by the core team members to avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen.

 

By carefully selecting the right team and structure, a committed organization can successfully gather the Voice of the Customer. Careful thought around the structure of your team including the strategic selection of a “Champion team”, stakeholder team, and a project leader will help your organization to gather the insights you need to innovate successfully.

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Tags: Customer Insights , In-Depth Interviewing , Voice of the Customer

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