In order to understand customers, voice of the customer projects undertake to speak to actual customers! A Voice of the Customer (VoC) discussion guide focuses the conversation on key topics about which you want to learn while leaving room for unexpected learnings.
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 from your team 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. They know not to be tempted go off-piste and fall into selling or explaining features. 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 the topic as a prompt. The sample uses ‘Information Technology’ as the context.
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: IT 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
- Download Sample VoC Discussion Guide
- Locate Sources of B2B Market Research Data
- Prepare to Capturing Voice Of The Customer
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