At a recent international management event, a renowned NYU professor claimed that the Voice of customer (VoC) is dead. In his tirade against VoC he said that he now relies on "customer interviews." Am I missing something here or is he?

What this gentlemen may have missed is that Voice of Customer is a strategy that comprises many tools and techniques including customer interviews, ethnography, customer journey mapping, etc.

At Triode we strongly believe that VoC techniques can lead to a better understanding of your customers and therefore result in a clearer product strategy. We define "customer" as the stakeholders who influence the use or the purchase of your solution.

So as you can imagine, Voice of customer has nothing to do with "asking what the customer wants"!

Customers want to talk to the people who will innovate for them. We recommend sending a team of two interviewers. Engage your entire team, treat VoC as a culture instead of an event, and you’ll win in the long run.

This does require new methods, motivation, and mind-set. Commercial people have been trained to sell, and technical people to solve. Both must be avoided during interviews.

Now is the time to SEARCH, NOT SELL OR SOLVE!

If you sell during VoC, customers know you’re not really interested in them. If you solve, you're shortcutting the process at the risk of missing something else. In either case, you’re wasting precious time better used to understand customer needs.

Needs and pain points are what you're looking for during a Voice of Customer visit. Sorry Professor Nadan, VoC is not dead!

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 product strategy, with an emphasis on reducing the risks associated with innovating in these sophisticated and often regulated consumer-oriented environments.