Do you have a customer-centric approach for your research and development (R&D) process? If not, your inwardly focus on perceived benefits and importance of your products and services could be skewed. As a company you should be engineering and developing products and services that fill gaps for your customers. It takes time to understand those gaps by asking your customers, not basing them on internal assumptions.
It's an ideal fit for voice of customer (VoC.) If they have a problem, you need a solution. If they have an issue, you need to fix it. If they have no difficulties, you need to be improving anyway. The minute you stop improving is when you give your competition an opening to jump in. One quote Drive Research, a feasibility study firm in Syracuse NY always go back to when working on VoC projects for new product development is: “Better is the opinion of the person buying the mousetrap, not the person building it" via author Josh Weltman. The simplified version I like is "better is the opinion of the buyer, not the seller."
This outwardly focus on your users and your customers needs to remain top-of-mind from start to finish of your R&D. Although customer feedback may initially spark an idea to create a new product or service, Drive Research is advocate of pursuing a more formal VoC feasibility study to truly assess the market.
VoC has a place in all operational areas for a company. Most important? All of this VoC feedback will come direct from the mouths of end-users, not your internal teams. No matter how great you think your idea is, the end-users will be the ones ultimately making the decision on whether or not to purchase.
If you are considering launching a new product or service to market, here are a 8 items you can learn more about through a commissioned VoC feasibility study with a marketing research company or firm like Drive Research:
Uncover in-depth feedback on the users' experiences
Understand adjustments or design changes to the concept before it's too late
Hear about the key benefits of the concept to assist with your marketing efforts
Measure conversion rates from other products or services being used
Score the likelihood to adopt the concept
Dive into barriers that would prevent users from adopting the concept
Find out the value of the concept in relation to competitive offerings
Explore price sensitivity for the concept
As a company, you should dedicate time and a budget to learn from your customers and non-customers when designing new products or services. A feasibility study can also assist with backing from executives or funding if needed. Having hard data on the potential success of a concept from the user pool can validate demand.
VoC and feasibility studies can come in many shapes and sizes from phone surveys or in-depth interviews (IDIs), to focus groups, to online surveys. Whatever you choose, nothing bad can ever happen from listening to your customer. Whether the feedback is good or bad, there will always be something constructive to learn and act upon to improve your service to them. As I've stated before, just lending an ear goes a long way in business.