In our recent webinar, Creating Happy Customers for Life: How to Better Understand Customer Needs, AMS Principal Kristyn Corrigan discussed why understanding customer needs matters more now than ever. As a follow up, Kristyn answered frequently asked questions from the session.
Q: How can we use Voice of the Customer research (VOC) and customer needs to drive more effective marketing?
A: An understanding of customer needs, or the benefits that your customers seek, can drive change in nearly every aspect of the organization. The impact can span product engineering, experience creation, service design, business model definition and marketing communications. Having a detailed understanding of our customers’ wants and needs, in their language, helps us to be better marketers. We can speak in language that resonates with customers and focus our communications on the things that matter most.
Q: What are best practices for quantifying Voice of the Customer research?
A: When a company goes through the effort of systematically uncovering the complete set of customer needs through in-depth qualitative research or machine learning of existing verbatims, typically the result is between 100-150 detailed needs. While this rich level of detail is useful and necessary, it’s best and most actionable to aggregate the needs into a hierarchy of 25-30 bundles or buckets that go together. Once that has been done, best practice is to field a web or phone-based survey where customers are asked to prioritize the 25-30 bundles in terms of what is most critical or important to them. Further, customers then prioritize these bundles, allowing us to understand where to focus our innovation efforts. Needs that are highly important and poorly performing in the current market are our primary focus areas or opportunities for innovation. The market is telling us these needs are important and currently not met.
Q: How can VOC help drive a more actionable customer segmentation?
A: Customer segmentation analysis is a great tool to understand how to better serve unique groups of customers. Customer needs are an excellent way to differentiate customer groups. A needs-based segmentation allows us to understand customer segments in terms of their most important needs. Not only does this allow us to create customized product offerings and experiences, but it allows us to develop custom marketing communications that speak to their most important needs.
Q: What considerations should I make if I’m trying to understand VOC and customer needs globally?
A: When conducting Voice of Customer research globally, it’s important to consider local research best practices. There are many nuances in how to recruit and gain agreement from customers, how to abide by incentive regulations, and how to make necessary adjustments to the discussion guide or survey to accommodate local norms. Research should be conducted in the language that the respondent is most comfortable communicating in. Consideration should be given to whether or not customer needs will differ significantly across geographic region or if the priority of the needs that will change. This will impact sampling strategy and prioritization survey design.
Q: What are some best practices for conducting Voice of the Customer research remotely?
A: As discussed in the webinar, virtual research techniques are increasingly popular for conducting Voice of the Customer research. In-depth interviews can be done over video chat or even telephone. In fact, remote interviews can actually help you to reach more customers in a shorter period of time. For B2B and healthcare markets in particular, it’s much easier for some professionals or physicians to give an hour over the phone rather than come in person. In addition, ethnographic research can be conducted remotely through the use of mobile devices and cameras. We’ve seen a surge in requests for virtual market research across several industries given recent social distancing recommendations, and we’ve utilized these techniques and others to successfully conduct VOC research remotely.
Missed Kristyn's recent webinar? Watch it on demand to learn techniques for uncovering customer needs, even while remote.