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10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc. 1 Customers? Who Needs em? Customer Sensing Curtis N. Bingham Predictive Consulting Group An address given to the Boston Product Management Association, 10/18/01 Attendees rated 4.6 out of 5
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.2 Bell Labs Mentality We know what our customers want! We told em so! It was more important to be right than to do right.
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.3 Outline Symptoms & problems Becoming customer focused Organizational considerations Political considerations Resources Blah, blah, blah Applause and fanfare
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.4 Is Your Company Customer-focused? Does your company: – Have a vision that doesnt mention the customer? – Issue press releases stating they are customer-focused? – Ask a nanny for input on advertising? – Develop the CEO or VPs pet-product? – Ship the cool product that came from engineering? – Respond to the most vocal sales people?
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.5 Results of False Customer Focus Great ideabut nobody buys Hugely expensive product launch/customer acquisition effortsbut nobody buys Sales dont meet forecasts Extreme Marketing vs. Development friction
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.6 Customer Satisfaction Index Source: ACSI/UMich Business School
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.7 ACSI & Spending Source: ACSI/UMich Business School
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.8 ACSI & Earnings Source: ACSI/UMich Business School
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.9 Why Do Customers Buy? Consumers – Gratification – Emotion Businesses – Security – Politics Bottom line: – To make problems go away! We must understand the customer pain, their willingness to buy, and profitably address it!
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.10 How Focused Must We Be? Initially? Extremely! – MarketSoft It depends on where your products are in the industry lifecycle
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.11 Industry Lifecycle
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.12 How Do You Learn What Customers Want? Research, research, research Development Research Marketing Research Sales Research Support May require organizational change
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.13 Types of Research 3 rd party research (be careful!) Primary research – Surveys – Focus groups – 1:1 interviews Sales reports Field engineers Customer service reps Customer complaints & suggestions Data mining Numerous other semi- automated tools
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.14 3 rd Party Research Think about their methods – Everyone wants to influence them – Companies pay them to come on-site – Many analysts seem to be easily influenced Big research firms – Common complaint is that Jupiter stinks – Gartner, Forrester have decent reputations – Aggregators such as eMarketer may be better Dont have the richness of your own data!
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.15 Direct, Qualitative Research Types – 1:1 interviews – Focus groups – Some surveys Excellent for B2B or smaller # of customers Good precursor for more in-depth research
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.16 Getting Started State/uncover what pain the customer feels? Select the audience Conduct interview, survey, focus group Aggregate feedback Interpret Test Implement Test Repeat until well mixed
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.17 Formulating the Problem Problem well-known – Make generic questions from development issues What are your thoughts on the new J2EE standards? What OS platforms are you using? What are your upgrade plans? Uncover it – Follow MarketSofts example and let customers tell you What keeps you awake at night? What three things are you presently unable to do? Allow for additional discovery
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.18 Select the Audience Remembertarget both economic and use- buyers! Start with advocates – Sales force, field engineers, tech support Friendly foes – Current customers Neutral – Companies that sales hasnt yet approached Possible enemies – Customers of competitors, lost sales
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.19 Making the Appointment Avoid the sales defense! Focus on their needs, not yours Approaches – Attempting to better understand your needs… – Market research Considerations – Most people will allow an hour, at least 20 mins – Offer an incentive ($100 AMEX gift certificate) Read book: Selling to Vito
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.20 Interviewing Be mindful of Outcome, Time, Process Open-ended questions – What does need to do/improve to be the most successful at ? – Valuable for discovery Record on tape so dont have to waste time taking notes Jot ideas to drill into during interview Communications skills Body language and NLP – Ensure comfortable, free of distractions Location
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.21 Common Interviewing Mistakes Selling during the interview – Interviewee doesnt care about YOU! Leading or closed questions – When are you implementing ? – Youre not using are you? Too rigid in following survey Body language
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.22 So You Have Some Quotes…. What do you do with them all? – Contextual Inquiry – FOCUS – KJ – Affinity mapping (sticky notes) All require up-front planning to execute properly – Select method before interviewing
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.23 FOCUS 5 phases – Frame the project – Organize the resources – Collect data – Understand the voices – Select action Developed for military applications Somewhat rigorous
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.24 KJ Nobody knows what the acronym means! Start interviews with very open-ended question Transcribe interviews, put all quotes on board Group similar and write summaries Re-group and continue until have 1 final group Last group is product to build, direction to turn, etc. Sub-groups are product features Extra rigor around format, style, color, etc.
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.25 Affinity Mapping Similar to a KJ, but without the rigor Uses sticky notes to post quotes up around the room Find basic similarities and group like sticky notes with each other
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.26 Testing & Interpreting Verify with customers – This is what we heard, is that what you said? Anything else to add? Work with development to create solutions Consider – Strategic goals – Resource levels – Competitive concerns – Time constraints Results into development & product roadmap
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.27 Testing Verify with interviewees that product design meets need – Does this solve your pain? How would you improve it further? People are horrible at telling you what they want – Terrific at telling you what they dont like!
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.28 Publishing the Results Publish far and wide, and at every opportunity! 1 page executive summary 4-5 page overview Supporting material as necessary – Dont need volume Use actual quotes everywhere possible
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.29 Implementing CPDCustomer Profile Document MRDMarketing Requirements Document PRDProduct Requirements Document FRDFunctional Requirements Document
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.30 Testing Traditional alpha, beta, etc.
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.31 Organizational Considerations Need a champion Create interdependency amongst service, product management, sales, development, etc. Create avenues for customer feedback Customer advisory board Customer experience manager?
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.32 Political Capital MUST HAVE With management – Know the customers better than the salespeople With Engineering – Know the customer better than anyone or know engineering better than they do Develop by sticking your nose everywhere Actively involved with sales, engineering, support Present your findings at every opportunity
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.33 Resources Whitepaper – The Swiss Army Knife of Marketing: Demand- Oriented Pricing Newsletter: Tips & Tricks for Product Managers – 1x monthly electronic newsletter Customer interview template InContext training Voices into Choices KJ whitepaper
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.34 What Do You Do Tomorrow? Sign up for Product Managers newsletter Schedule long-time customer interview Set up customer input mechanism Interview sales people/field engineers Interview customer support Explore resources on communications skills --OR Hire me!
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.35 Summary It mattereth not what thou doest, so long as thou dost find out what pain thy customer feeleth!
10/18/01© 2001, Predictive Consulting Group, Inc.36 Applause and Fanfare
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