Voice of the CustomerA crucial part of a successful product strategy is understanding what the customers' needs are. This process if called Voice of the Customer (VOC) and should be conducted as soon as possible in the product development.

Information should be gathered from a variety of sources, including individual interviews, contextual inquiry and ethnographic techniques. All of these involve in-depth interviews with potential customers, focusing on their experiences with current products and/or alternatives. After the interviews are conducted, VOC professionals compile a list of needs and organize it into a hierarchy according to the needs expressed by different types of customers.

Market studies have been around for a long time but they are typically labor intensive and ineffective. Companies sent out annual or twice a year surveys with a ton of questions to their customers. Most customers get tired just looking at it so response rates are low. Analyzing the surveys which were returned is a big undertaking and do not reveal much information.

The Voice of the Customer solution takes customer feedback and organizes it into a unified approach which describes the customer experience across multiple channels. It then derives insights from the feedback and presents it the the company in an easy to digest and actionable way.

VOC is still in its infancy; the market is currently between $400 million and $600 million in revenue. But the market is expected to grow as more companies recognize the value of obtaining valuable data which helps them develop a strategy for satisfying their customers' needs. VOC is an affordable solution, since technology allows data to be collected easily. So VOC is not limited to the large enterprises, and small and medium sized businesses are discovering its benefits as well.

Patrick Sirois

At Triode, we specialize in developing new products and services for complex industries like medical devices and transportation. We work with you closely to help define your product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.