- Product Market Fit
- Virtual Advisory Board
In the grand scheme of things, product development and marketing professionals have always relied on some form of research tool to help them get their jobs done. Whether it’s relying on intuition, using focus groups or surveys, or simply taking a look at what the competition is doing, we’ve always turned to different methods and tools to inform our decisions. However, over time, these research methods have evolved in both their complexity and accessibility.
A recent global panel of 74 industry experts convened using the Currnt market intelligence platform revealed that capturing the voice of customer (VOC) insights warrants a variety of tools which are selected based on product life stage and business issues. It was also observed that organizations need to apply best practices to understand and adopt the optimal Research Learning Tools (RLTs).
In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the most popular research learning tools and explore how they can help you stay on top of your game.
Meeting your Voice of Customer Needs
Industry experts believe that understanding the voice of customer (VOC) is important, but the process has its nuances.
According to Rocco Del Greco, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), “The first step is getting buy-in from leadership on the value of VOC. Next, choose a platform to:
- Seek participation,
- Collect data in a straightforward way, and
- Report conclusions efficiently.
“Lastly, conveying the findings in an easy-to-understand format to apply to current and future projects, disseminating the results to as many employees as possible, without compromising confidentiality or company regulations.”
Kevin O'Donnell, VP of Product, noted, “Voice Of the Customer channels should have robust feedback mechanisms. If feedback is truly valued, it must be acknowledged, and customers should expect a level of response for their input. This can be in the form of an indicative roadmap or a description of how feedback is analyzed. Or, when possible, a starting point for a conversation with the customer: why do you need this improvement? What are you trying to achieve?
“Many companies view their stack of unaddressed customer requests and feedback as a major headache. On the contrary, it is a privilege. There are companies that can only dream of having such an engaged customer base that cares enough to share feedback and see the product improve. The trick is to reframe this feedback and treat it as a competitive advantage to product development,” said O'Donnell.
The need for Alternative RLTs
Based on the panel discussion, alternative research learning tools serve various purposes for uncovering insights and highlighting opportunities and obstacles.
Rocco Del Greco pointed out, “Before starting any VOC research, it is vital to understand ‘who’ you'll be asking (the customer group) and ‘who’ you'll be telling (your internal audience). Choose whether your audience will be more informed by quantitative vs. qualitative findings. When presenting your research, do not overlook the power of video, both in-person and recorded interactions. Keep in mind, age groups may respond differently to comfortability on camera; therefore, provide alternatives to those who wish to provide feedback without showing their face.”
David Tigay, Growth and Innovation Manager, claimed, “We have a great sales team. They are experts at turning customer problems into need statements for our current product offerings. However, in order to truly be able to listen, you need to eliminate the sales staff from VOC on site visits. The sales team wants to act as the gatekeepers, but you must either work with them or around them to get to the customer in a relaxed and non-sales conversation.”
Tigay stated, “The customer has their own 'truths' or 'perceptions.' Sales wants to 'educate' them on why they are mistaken or wrong. True VOC does not judge, educate or pitch new products.
“VOC has no judgments; it only records the answers. To capture it accurately, you must eliminate the sales staff from the conversation.”
The most viable VOC Solutions
Panelists indicated that VOC research learning tools are selected based on the desired outcome.
Rocco Del Greco shared, “We use four platforms to conduct our VOC research. Typeform allows us to design surveys in a multitude of ways. It is a very flexible and easy-to-use platform for data collection. CrazyEgg provides feedback on user interactions on web pages, providing insights into customer frustration with your website's design and interface.
“UserTesting combines live user recording of interactions on your website, adding an additional layer of usage response and immediate user feedback. Lastly, VideoAsk (a sister product by Typeform) uses asynchronous messaging and question/response in three interchangeable formats: video, audio and textual.”
According to Alex Jones, Head of Market & UX Research, “We have a number of different data sources which feed into VOC: NPS feedback, online reviews, customer exit surveys, customer testing, and analytics. We also have to be mindful that one particular source of VOC isn't unduly influencing decision-making. For example, customer complaints can feel high priority issues to the support staff dealing with the complaint, but this needs to be considered within the context of the thousands of customers that haven't complained about an issue.
“As a relatively young business, we are still in the early stages of building out our VOC — the next would be to have some form of representative customer panel we can tap into even more regularly than we can right now.”
“UserTesting is our go-to platform for the majority of early-stage discovery work — it can be used for both light-touch and in-depth customer feedback. Lucky Orange is a platform we use primarily for heat mapping our websites (although it can do more than that).
“We use SurveyMonkey to host our Net Promoter Score (NPS) and any ad-hoc customer research surveys we run. All of the solutions can do a lot for very little financial outlay. We've looked into Intercom, which feels like it could be a really powerful solution, but it's also very expensive for a young business,” said Jones.
Panelists advised that best practices are needed to understand and apply the optimal research learning tools.
Will Zhou, Director, Product Marketing, mentioned, “To develop custom products, it's key to engage with those top ‘teaching’ customers who have the technical/end-user insights and will support the volume when product is in production. Of course, we need to have our OWN judgment of what are essential requirements (e.g., cost and one or two key performance metrics) and what are ‘good-to-haves’, but overall the product market fit is straightforward since if those big guys buy in, then you have a selling product.
“To develop mass market-oriented products, it's key to identify the key applications and engage with insightful customers to summarize common denominators (features) and create products based on them. There will be a lot of trade-offs to make, and the requirements are usually bits and pieces and here and there. So it needs good product managers to make these trade-offs,” concluded Zhou.
Keep the conversation going! Let us know your thoughts on the best practices for uncovering VOC insights with research learning tools.