On Thursday June 17th, 2010 we teamed up with Dorian Simpson of Planning Innovations on the topic:
Effective Use of Online Surveys for the Innovation Process
The turn out for this topic was fantastic! It has been proven that customer-driven innovation requires a steady flow of real insight from real customers. However, to be successful, the right questions and techniques must be used for each stage of innovation. If used correctly, cost-effective online survey methods can become an essential tool to consistently deliver new, valuable products and services.
Dorian presented on VOC (voice of the customer) techniques that can be applicable to an online survey. Although there is no substitute for doing in-person interviews, the process of gathering and analyzing qualitative data via an online survey can increase efficiencies and deliver real-time data that will allow your firm to stay with or ahead of any industry trends.
The focus of our discussion looked at Customer Problems, Trends of Interest, Feature Priorities, Value Questions, Market Size, Pricing, and Take rate (boxed in red above). In order to clarify this fuzzy stage we must look at discovery and validation technique also known as divergence and convergence methods.
Most surveys are used for “convergence” or validation research
That’s OK… but…
–The set of options you may be testing are assumed to be accurate.
–They typically don’t solicit the problems customers will value
–The language or words used may not reflect how your customers talk about the product or problem
E.g. Home audio speakers – On a scale of 1 to 5:
“How important is it for your headphones to sustain a complex bass tone”???? Very Important!
Convergence surveys without understanding customer language, real problems, and options THEY desire lead to missed opportunities and can often misdirect innovation efforts.
Tips in using Voice of the Customer Techniques:
1.Seek attitudes, problems and needs (not product features and functions)
2.Use open-ended questions to solicit more detailed responses
1.Break down responses into bites
2.Look for trends, clusters, and themes
3.Seek clues that can be used to test further and create hypothesis for valuable opportunities
Use your surveys to solicit problems! Consumers have gotten accustomed to sharing thoughts in threads in short bursts. Texting, emailing, IM’ing, Facebooking, tweeting, etc.
Often the ‘open-ended’ results are the most interesting and enlightening part of survey responses.
Additional Tips to Implement during the Innovation Process:
1.Write your survey as if you were in a 1-on-1 interview
2.Results are “qualitative”, so set goals to receive 30-40 responses
3.Conduct multiple surveys to various target groups to test different questions to find those that gain real insight
4.You can ask more intimate questions of current customers than potential customers, but don’t let that stop you from trying!
5.Follow general good online survey techniques
-Test your survey
-Make it clear responses keep strictly confidential
-Keep survey results to 15-20 minutes
6.Conduct threaded surveys – Get responses, then send out follow up surveys to the same group to elaborate on response themes (not specific responses.. that’s creepy)
7. Use visuals of the task to ask questions such as adding a sketch of someone waking up to get users to think about the problem
8.Get creative and try to make it fun for your customers to give you thoughtful and honest responses
About the author: Dorian Simpson founded Planning Innovations in 2002 to help technology-driven companies launch successful products and services through focused innovation management and planning. He has significant experience in both engineering and marketing to help build the bridge between these two critical innovation functions.