Voice of Consumer Should Lead Product Innovation

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11-17-2020 George Assimakopoulos Metric Centric, Founder & Principal Manager

Consumer feedback has become the most important factor for delivering an exceptional user experience. However, many organizations with great product and service ideas never achieve market success because they failed to understand and meet the needs of consumers.

Your organization might have the best expertise in the space where you operate, but that professional knowledge will never be as valuable to the organization as customer insights.

This is a notion that must be embraced by research and development (R&D) practices. By using customer suggestions and opinions as a decision-making guideline, organizations can adjust their products and services to perfectly fit consumer needs. This also allows for the consumer to be involved in product development decisions.

Voice of Consumer (VOC) research – the collection of information directly from customers regarding product needs and preferences – is critical to the success of any new product or service. VOC should be initiated early in product design and carried throughout all stages of the product development process.

For many organizations, formulated surveys tend to be the choice method for quantifying consumer feedback. However, this traditional approach of asking customers for solutions tends to undermine the innovation process. Customers only know what they have experienced; they cannot imagine what they don’t know about emergent technologies.

Today organizations can listen to their audiences more effectively than ever. New artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have provided R&D practices with the ability to collect consumer data that can be mined for key marketplace sentiment intelligence. Organizations now have powerful VOC devices for understanding behavioral signals, and these instruments are driven by conversational data collected across various online sources.

A recent research study by ResearchGate analyzed how VOC can be used as a product-development technique to produce a detailed set of consumer needs organized as requirements. The study discusses how R&D practices can gather conversational data from consumers regarding their experiences and desired outcomes. When that intelligence is properly organized based on importance and satisfaction, it can fuel product and service innovation.

At Metric Centric, we have seen how conversational data research can impact any R&D practice when correctly applied and well-adopted:

  • State & Local government officials leverage VOC research to target and track hypotheses for public programs and services. This results in better planning and decision-making with less time and costs involved compared to public surveys and focus group tests.
  • Manufacturers of industrial coatings used VOC to understand diverse applications of auto paint at body shops to create a unique solution for fiberglass. That same application is now used by the military and even on golf-ball covers.
  • In this current pandemic, many businesses are using VOC research to understand how their customers’ needs and pain points have shifted. Companies can gauge existing consumer interests and desires and gain insights on how to pivot their products and services.

As Harvard professor and economist Ted Levitt explained, “Customers aren’t looking for a 1/4 inch drill, they are looking for a 1/4 inch hole.”

Analyze conversational data collected from online sources to understand desired outcomes from your consumers. The insights gained will help to prioritize and navigate innovation within your R&D practice.

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