B2B Voice of Customer Discovery Interviews
New Product Blueprinting builds on earlier methodologies, such as traditional Voice of the Customer (VOC), QFD and DFSS.1 However, the Blueprinting process and training was designed just for B2B suppliers. Your B2B customers are more insightful, more rational, more interested and fewer in number than end-consumers.
If you use hand-me-down consumer-goods VOC methods, you’ll forego these advantages… and learn far less than you could about market needs.
1. Digital Projection
Whenever possible, you’ll use a digital projector to capture customers’ ideas. This completely changes the interview dynamics, since customers don’t have to guess what you’re scribbling or typing. AIM's Blueprinter® software lets you record and sort their comments on digital “sticky notes”… creating a shared “idea-generation” atmosphere. This also allows for real-time corrections and greatly impresses customers. These Discovery Interviews can boost customers’ view of you long before your new product arrives.
2. No Questionnaires
Most VOC training encourages you to develop brilliant questions in an interview script. We teach you how to brilliantly probe customer responses. You ask a few simple questions and then follow their lead… as they direct you to the areas they are most concerned with (all within your project scope, of course). Customers feel like you are really listening to them… not just filling in your questionnaire. Customers say they find this “refreshing.”
3. No Selling, No Solving
Your commercial people have been trained to sell and your technical people to solve. But in Blueprinting interviews, they just search. They use highly-refined probing techniques to uncover market needs your competitors completely miss. Blueprinting is very intentional about staying clear of solving (which wastes time and jeopardizes your intellectual property) and selling (which wastes time and makes you appear self-serving).
4. Customer Needs before Supplier Solutions
Many companies say they want to understand market needs… when they really just want to validate solutions developed in their labs and conference rooms. If your NPD process begins with an “idea light-bulb,” it’s usually your idea, not your customers’, right? No wonder most new products fail! Blueprinting inverts this process, so you start with market needs and then look inside and outside your company for the best solution.
Traditional VOC interviews that call for tape-recording require hours of transcribing and interpretation. Your B2B customers are capable—and usually eager—to help you understand and prioritize their needs while still in the room with you. (And B2C techniques such as tape-recording or one-way mirrors can make them feel more like Jane Goodall’s chimps than professional peers.) Your interview team has a short post-interview debriefing… and they’re done.
6. Market-Driven Data
When you conduct Preference Interviews in a second round of customer visits, Blueprinter® software generates Market Satisfaction Gaps (MSG). Customer outcomes with MSG > 30% indicate the customer is eager for change. In some cases, you’ll learn customers are already satisfied: Instead of developing a product for this market, drop the project and move on to something customers care about. And celebrate! This is how companies stop squandering scarce R&D and marketing resources.
7. Search Your Value Chain
Unlike B2C producers, your product might be part of your customer’s customer’s product, their customer’s product and so on. We teach advanced techniques to help you go down this value chain to understand needs. Also, B2C producers assign “one vote” per consumer… while you need to weight the buying power and value chain position of downstream customers. Blueprinting lets you do this with simple but powerful quantitative tools.
8. Superior Value Propositions
Blueprinter software helps you set product objectives based on data from interviews and competitive testing. Visual tools let you view “what-if” product designs, predict market reaction to each, and select the best. Resulting value propositions—void of wishful thinking and internal bias—are captured in a 12-point VC-quality Business Case. You can use this as a stand-alone justification or as a supplement to your existing stage-and-gate process.
9. Building Corporate Memory
Instead of using many unconnected tools, we capture the entire front-end of product development in a single Microsoft Excel®-based Blueprinter document (Blueprinter 5.0 now let’s your teams collaborate using the cloud.) This gives teams an easy-to-follow roadmap and builds corporate memory by allowing easy data retrieval later. Clients have called Blueprinter “the lab notebook for marketing professionals.”Microsoft Excel® is a registered trademark of The Microsoft Corporation
10. Designed for the Masses
You don’t want just a handful of internal experts hearing your customers’ “voice.” With our workshops, coaching and follow-up, a critical mass of your organization will continually uncover customer needs and become less internally-focused. Don’t outsource this work to VOC consultants: It’s a strong competitive advantage you should own.
- What is a Discovery Interview?
See why customers and suppliers love Discovery Interviews. (Downloadable PDF with embedded video, 6MB)
- The B2B Advantage
Watch this video to understand how B2B voice of customer and product marketing differs from B2C. (YouTube, 2 minutes)
- 5 Parts of Discovery Interviews
Learn about the five parts of voice of customer discovery interviews. (YouTube, 1 minute)
- Reinventing VOC for B2B
Learn the new B2B voice of customer (VOC) rules (free eBook, 32 pages)
- Chapter 11: Discovery Interviews
Get Voice of Customer Training
We know it can be difficult to grasp how to use Blueprinting, which is why we offer voice of customer training for your team. We’d be happy to spend time with you in a private web conference learning about your specific situation and going over the voice of customer training options. Contact us with any questions about Blueprinting.