JEM 9 Marketing Consultancy Discussion Guide Template Word Cloud Discussion Topics

Voice of the Customer – How To Develop A Discussion Guide

In order to understand customers, voice of the customer projects undertakes to speak to actual customers!  A discussion guide focuses the conversation on key topics about which you want to learn.

Based on internal stakeholder interviews, and existing internal and external data sources, a discussion guide provides the framework for what you need to learn about each customer persona.  Grounded in your (draft) customer persona, the discussion guide considers the market and business perspective and the customer persona ecosystem.

VoC Discussion Tone & Approach

The discussions / interviews are conversational and qualitative in nature to elicit existing, future, and potential latent needs related to what you need to learn.

In each discussion, approximately three people are involved, one discussion leader and two observers.  The discussion leader needs experience in leading open-ended exploratory discussions, and must be intimately familiar with the discussion guide.  Observers are responsible for ‘capturing voice of the customer’ data.

The Voice of The Customer Discussion Format

Each section in the discussion guide builds on the previous section and is designed to enable a free flowing conversation.  If a previously element of the conversation has covered the section or topic, there’s no need to go over it again mechanically.

In this template a sample question is provided for each section. Coupled with the sample question, is a checklist of items/topics to learn about.  If your participant does not bring up the specific topic, the discussion leader may use it as a prompt.

1. Voice Of Customer Discussion Context

Objectives:  This section aligns with the screener, focuses on facts easily available to the customer/participant, and provides the opportunity to develop rapport.  Briefly establish / confirm the customer persona, their ecosystem context and the area under investigation.  It’s short.

  • Sample Context Question:  Establish IT Set Up – could you help me to understand your current IT set up and use of technology?
  • Sample Context Checklist / Prompt: Hardware/devices used, software / tools, passwords, training

2.       Voice of The Customer Needs / Problems

Objectives: Relative to the area under investigation, establish the key needs and concerns of the customer/participant in their own words.  This section is open ended and the most important aspect to understand well.  There is nothing more powerful than a solid understanding of real customer needs.  It deserves the largest amount of time.

  • Sample VoC Need / Problems:  What Works Well In Your IT Set Up?
  • Sample Needs / Problems Prompts: Works well, works poorly, unmet need.

3.      Voice Of The Customer Solutions

Objectives: Establish how this customer/participant previously went about addressing the problems identified under ‘needs/problems’.  The practical implications, constraints and influences on the needs / problems gained in section 2 gather additional detail.  Further new needs / problems emerge.

Asking customers/participants to look backward, (“How did you go about xx?”), solicits factual, memory bound information.  The 5W, 1H question framework works well here.

Try and avoid a deliberately speculative perspective (“How would you xxx?”).  Most people are not system / solution designers.

  • Sample Solution Question: How Did You Approach Dealing With <Previously Mentioned> IT Problems?
  • Sample Solution Prompts: Tech savvy buddy, technical support, helpdesk team, costs, waiting time.

We also use a few questions that, like magic, get to the heart of what’s frustrating prospects.  It provides a nice opportunity for customers to dream up what they’d really like.

4. Discussion Wrap Up

Objectives: Summarize, fill any gaps and wrap up the conversation.  Provide an explicit opportunity to round out any gaps you left.

The first of these two aspects feeds back to the participant the main topics or needs that you have heard.  It’s an opportunity for you to express the ideas you heard in the language your participant used.  And for the customer / participant to fill any gaps or correct any misunderstandings.

  • Sample Question: What did we forget to ask in this discussion?

Voice Of The Customer Discussion Guide Toolkit

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About Jane Morgan

With 20 years high-tech marketing & product development experience from Boston to Billund, Berlin to Bangalore, Jane has managed teams and tech products with millions of installs, and millions of revenue (annually). She's researched and developed market strategy for global markets, and established the blueprint for product management in many new teams. As an intrapreneur turned entrepreneur, she changed vowels in 2014 and founded JEM 9 Marketing Consultancy. Today she works with CEOs & business leaders to assist them in understanding and reaching customers. Speaker on market research, technology marketing and product management.