In marketing and product development, VOC (Voice of the Customer) is a common research technique to discover customer preferences, needs, expectations and aversions. Is researching only the customer enough to inform product design?

Think Bigger: Voice of Everyone

bb7’s VOE (Voice of Everyone) research methodology honors ALL stakeholders such as product assemblers, shippers, maintenance techs, buyers, re-sellers and end-users. Products developed with all stakeholders in mind succeed in meeting everyone’s unique needs. The VOE approach to understanding user and market needs is a comprehensive view of a product’s life cycle. VOE produces clear results and works well even with highly disruptive product concepts, a contrast to traditional VOC methods that often become unreliable.

Powerful Steps to Success

  • Identify everyone with a stake in the product life cycle
  • Rapidly articulate their needs, motivations and values
  • Recognize and exploit areas of common interest
  • Recognize and mitigate areas of contention
  • Examine alternatives and select the most promising way to proceed
  • Provide the development team with clear and actionable direction
  • Capture and retain insight so that future efforts become increasingly efficient

Voice of Everyone is successful because it requires understanding all needs as early as possible. It is the roadmap that uncovers opportunities to deliver market-dominating solutions. VOE uncovers more opportunities for product improvement, profitability and evolution than just VOC.

Listening to the Right Voice

Is your customer the actual product user? Do you sell your products or equipment to businesses who resell the product? Is your customer just purchasing your product on behalf of another user? Traditional VOC limits design research.

A key aspect of bb7’s VOE is identifying and studying the actual product users who are often not the direct customer. For example, consider the food service equipment industry. “Paul in Purchasing” might buy beverage dispensers for a café chain. He might be seen as the customer to the beverage dispensing equipment manufacturer, but Paul is not “Bella the Barista” who will use the dispenser regularly or “Chris the Customer” who routinely requests a perfect Americano or “Sam in Service” who is responsible for the dispenser’s maintenance. Each stakeholder has vastly differing priorities.

VOE ensures a strong focus on user-centered design through simultaneous consideration of user experience, form and function. Results from user research provide a clear vision to develop and position products with practical, responsive and market-dominating solutions.

VOE Influences the Effectiveness of Existing Design Processes

  • Simultaneous consideration of form, function, features, fit, feasibility and user-experience
  • Rapid establishment of a rich set of alternatives
  • Structured comparison and selection of concepts and development approaches
  • Measureable progress toward meeting final design requirements
  • Visibility into competitive response options
  • Basis for communicating with market to confirm understanding of needs

The Value of Research

Improving your odds for brand-building success relies on VOE to acquire the information that will drive design decisions. Form and function go hand-in-hand, but understanding where everyone places value significantly influences new product design and development.

VOE’s Benefits

  • Identifying areas of opportunity that help focus time and resources toward developing solutions that will satisfy customer needs, rather than chasing arbitrary alternatives
  • Getting it right the first time helps the product meet or exceed everyone’s needs to promote a positive reputation from the start
  • Reduction in redesign effort
  • Strong opportunity to position a product immediately as a market leader

Listen for Success

Voice of the Customer is fundamental to business insight and strategy. Researching beyond the “customer” provides a view of every stakeholders’ interaction, perception and needs related to your product, brand and business. Listen to the Voice of Everyone to discover a complete understanding of opportunities. Success is out there if you’re willing to listen.