Getting more from the voice of the customer

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They say it is a top priority, but a majority of companies are not improving their customers' experiences. One reason is that many of these companies continue to struggle to put the voice of the customer (VOC) to work. Here we examine the specific challenges that are preventing companies from using VOC data to improve the customer experience, and offer some general strategies for addressing the most vexing of these challenges.

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... As product developers have developed their own craft, they have introduced a variety of refinements. They involve techniques aimed at the accuracy of information, like voice of the customer research (Brandt, 2008) and careful segmentation and product differentiation. Other refinements concentrate on making the NPD process itself more robust. ...
... Some of the best methods carry a bias bred of past success. Even the tested technique of listening to the voice of the customer (VOC) (Brandt, 2008;Cooper and Edgett, 2008) carries with it the danger of functional fixedness that focuses too closely on the current consumer. VOC techniques work; marketers do get a deeper understanding of customer wants, needs, and challenges. ...
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Purpose Over the last several decades, product development efforts have seen unacceptably high new product failure rates. One important factor is the presence of competitors who can interfere with marketing strategy and force changes that sap resources and reduce success. As industries try to improve their success, line extensions, i.e. developing products similar but different to successful products, have become more common. Simultaneously, industries have reacted by refining the new product development (NPD) process to make it more reliable and accurate. The refined development techniques are so helpful in refining product benefits with which firms are familiar that they reinforce the pressure to extend the line. The result is overcrowded markets where destructive competition destroys profitability. A “blue ocean” strategy promises to change the destructive cycle of market crowding. Originally the framework focused on overall market strategy. However, it has a direct application to NPD. Revising the NPD process to incorporate a blue ocean viewpoint before the idea generation stage may reduce the failure rate and create breakthrough products that are not easily emulated. This paper aims to address this issue. Design/methodology/approach The paper reviews the NPD literature as well as work implementing a blue ocean strategy. It delineates the tools developed for applying blue ocean concepts to strategy. The paper then applies a blue ocean approach to the NPD process with the objective of developing new products and services that are unhindered by competitive offerings. Implementing a blue ocean strategy involves four main actions and may be focused on six targets. The paper integrates the elements into a strategic opportunity product development matrix which may help practitioners. Moreover, it identifies at which stage of the new product development process blue ocean concepts should be introduced. Findings The paper reveals that there are no unvarnished panaceas in product development. Applying a blue ocean strategy to avoid competition early in the product life cycle promises to reduce dangerous competition to allow the product to succeed. However, the gains will probably not extend indefinitely. It requires constant improvement and application of the concepts to gain a measure of sustainability. If firms are successful early, they may be able to defend gains in some areas to retain profitability, while seeking new blue oceans. Practical implications Blue ocean applied to marketing strategy has seen large gains in success. Integrating efforts to find uncluttered market space holds the promise of increased success. It will also refine the NPD process. Originality/value Blue ocean strategy has not been applied to the new product development process in the literature. The paper integrates the concepts of the strategy with the elements of product development. The result is a new approach toward success products and product introductions.
A growing body of research underscores the importance of how effectively (or poorly) organizations listen and respond to key external publics and stakeholders. This paper describes research focusing on how organizational hierarchy and member roles impact perceptions of organizational listening effectiveness, specifically the process of capturing, analyzing, disseminating, and utilizing the “Voice of the Consumer” (VoC). After reviewing literature in three relevant areas of research, the paper describes a study in which senior executives’ perceptions of the effectiveness of consumer listening efforts in their respective organizations are compared with those of lower-level consumer intelligence providers and users. Results indicate that senior executives assess VoC program effectiveness in their organizations more favorably than consumer intelligence providers/users with respect to 10 key aspects of organizational listening. Implications for theory-building and knowledge development, along with implications for practitioners and directions for future research, are discussed.
Um auf industriellen Märkten bestehen zu können, müssen sich Unternehmen nicht nur mit der zunehmenden Wettbewerbsintensität, sondern auch mit steigenden Kundenanforderungen auseinandersetzen. Eine Differenzierung vom Wettbewerb sowie die Erfüllung der Kundenwünsche gelingen mittlerweile aber nicht mehr allein durch eine überzeugende Technologie (vgl. ISHII und ICHIMURA 2003). Denn Kunden verlangen oftmals nicht mehr nur ein qualitativ hochwertiges Produkt (z. B. eine industrielle Anlage), sie fordern eine individuelle Lösung für ein bestimmtes Problem (z. B. eine auf ihre Bedürfnisse zugeschnittene Anlage inklusive Serviceleistungen und Nachkaufbetreuung). Infolgedessen wird es für Unternehmen unerlässlich, neue Wege zu beschreiten, um den aktuellen Herausforderungen entgegenzutreten und langfristig am Markt erfolgreich zu sein.
Purpose The author aims to examine how customer voice contributes to service provider relationships as a relationship driver by assessing its linkages to distinct relationship outcomes. Design/methodology/approach Structural equation modeling is used to test the study's hypotheses with US customer survey data from two independent samples: a luxury specialty retailer ( n =2,586) and a casual dining restaurant ( n =634). Both participating service firms use loyalty programs whose members are included in this study. Findings Customer voice is shown to positively and directly relate to customers' willingness to increase the volume and share of their purchases, impart positive word of mouth, and participate in a variety of marketing research initiatives. Research limitations/implications The multi‐contextually supported results are based on distinct customer groups with varying ties to the service provider. Practical implications As service providers are able to favorably influence customer voice, they also stand to improve their marketing performance. Originality/value This study provides a theoretically richer and broader view of customer voice as a driver of strengthened service provider relationships. The findings demonstrate how customer voice does more than protect against customer defection by also contributing to customer relationship building.
The innovation process has often been represented as a linear process which funnels customer needs through various business and process filters. This method may be appropriate for some consumer products, but in the medical device industry there are some inherent limitations to the traditional innovation funnel approach. In the medical device industry, there are a number of stakeholders who need to have their voices heard throughout the innovation process. Each stakeholder has diverse and unique needs relating to the medical device, the needs of one may highly affect the needs of another, and the relationships between stakeholders may be tenuous. This paper describes the application of a spiral innovation process to the development of a medical device which considers three distinct stakeholder voices: the Voice of the Customer, the Voice of the Business and the Voice of the Technology. The process is presented as a case study focusing on the front-end redesign of a class III medical device for an orthopedics company. Starting from project initiation and scope alignment, the process describes four phases, Discover, Envision, Create, and Refine, and concludes with value assessment of the final design features.
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