Are you missing something in your VOC research?

Are you missing something in your VOC research?

If you Google “Voice of the Customer Tools”, you get 256,000,000 search results. It’s clear that companies invest a lot of time and money into Voice of the Customer research. But, does VOC research truly give companies a better understanding of their customers? Or just a better understanding of what these customers think about them?

The importance of the voice of the customer

Voice of the Customer absolutely has a place in running any business. For new product development decisions, it is critical to get feedback on what customers think about product releases and where to invest precious resources when making improvements. But there is one thing that many VOC research initiatives lack…feedback on what the customer thinks about their own business.

Voice of the Customer research needs a boost when it comes to giving companies better customer understanding. Customer understanding is not the same as voice of the customer. Voice of the customer, as mentioned above, is focused on your customer’s thoughts on YOUR product. But customer understanding is what you understand about your customers and THEIR business.

Voice of the customer is for product development; customer understanding is for gathering the deep perspective needed to teach customers something new and engaging about their own business.

How well do you understand your customer?

Customer understanding is knowing what your customer’s day-to-day looks like, what decisions they make, the tradeoffs they must consider, what they struggle to get done and why that happens, what metrics they track and why. These are questions VOC research doesn’t tackle. This is not on purpose. VOC research is focused on getting to the new thing, the feature that is going to differentiate you from your competitors.

If you can get to better customer understanding, can you get to the right solution for your customer faster than they can? That's the key. Everyone seems to know that Henry Ford quote that talks about a person wanting a faster horse instead of car.  And with powerful commercial teaching, you can differentiate your company from the competition, by leading your customers them to the car even though they were asking for the faster horse.

VOC research is about how your company can better help customers. But you can also help customers by teaching them something they might not have considered about their business. Having a solid customer understanding is a key piece of Challenger and allows for the opportunity to teach your customers. Think of it as the car in the “faster horse” conversation. Instead of just asking your customers how you can help them, what if you could teach them what they should want?

Customer understanding informs commercial insight

Commercial Insight is that, but it takes a thorough understanding of your customer in order to create a Commercial Insight. Good insight takes all the knowledge that your organization has based on the work done with other customers and helps customers see their blind spots.  True Commercial Insight leads back to something your company already has to offer. 

If you are focused today on voice of the customer, what questions can you add to your customer interactions so you can deepen your customer understanding? It will pay off.