If you are a product manager or a CEO of a SaaS company, what drives you to create new products? What kind of factors influences your decisions? Do you consider the voice of the customer (VoC) at all? Is customer feedback relevant to your product development process?
This article aims to show developers and designers why the voice of customers is critical to new product success.
Why is the Voice of the Customer an Integral Part of the Product Development Process?
Although your team of dedicated developers is all about cutting-edge technologies and top-notch design qualities, it doesn’t necessarily bring about customer loyalty.
Digital brands or SaaS companies that have had mind-blown product concepts and initial success have ended up disappointing users due to a low or zero match between the product and the market.
Quality management and financial issues are not the main reasons, but a failure to understand and meet market demands. Your company may have extensive experience in the industry where it operates, but that professional knowledge will never be more valuable than insights from your customers.
As an example, Hotjar attributes its rapid growth to keeping close to its customers – in just five years, it grew from zero to over €17 million in recurring revenue. They have installed their product on more than 670,000 sites.
By listening to your customers, you’ll strengthen your chances of getting the attention of the market. Don’t let your competitors decide what your product should be but instead, let your customers do the speaking. Make decisions based on customer suggestions and opinions. Align your products and services with what your customers need.
Additionally, by putting your customers first and involving them in the design of your products, you will align your supply with their demand and make them feel valued. As a result, customers are more likely to become loyal to a brand after feeling involved in its development.
A lot of today’s technology and product design is driven by user experience. Apple’s innovative products have been distinguished from their competitors by a seamless customer experience.
As a developer, it’s important to create a complete customer experience. Experiences should add value to the brand and product at every stage of the customer journey. Having customers tell you what they like about your service and what they think is lacking makes for amazing customer experiences.
You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
– Steve Jobs
5 Tips on How to Integrate the Voice of the Customer in Your Product Development Process
Following our discussion of the importance of listening to your customers, you will want to consider how to apply this strategy to the development of your products.
Obtaining feedback in different stages of product development requires various approaches. In order to gather effective customer insights, it is important to plan in advance how the findings can be applied. If the feedback is not actionable, it is unnecessary.
Below is an overview of the product development process, and why Voice of Customer must be a central part of each step.
As part of the process of creating new products, there involves a lengthy and strenuous brainstorming process. Then, when everything is approved, there’s still the fat chance that your new product might fail in the highly competitive market.
Therefore, it’s a perfect time here to check out what your current customers are saying. For instance, consider surveying them or directly asking them via a chat, call, or email.
2. Research & Develop
More and more doubts arise once you progress from theoretical product designs to actual building and testing. Without feedback from customers, you will find it very difficult to make any decisions regarding product development.
Typically, companies turn to senior managers or their internal collection of feedback to build the product roadmap. Yet, given everything we’ve said so far, the customers are the ones who know themselves best on what they want and need. Thus, requesting their feedback validation and confirmation at every touchpoint is critical.
While usability testing typically begins at this stage, customers also can see the product for the first time and are asked to provide feedback.
You should begin asking questions to your customers way before prototyping to eliminate the need to start from scratch. Thus, saving time and money. However, prototyping and testing of products are not pointless. It’s just that testing and observation can be much more meaningful and accurate if customer feedback is consciously thought of throughout the product development process.
Users and customers should be able to compare several product prototypes. Customers can give you critical feedback in an open-ended way (I like this or I would improve this…). The prototypes need to be tested across different levels and segments of customers, as different groups of users can help uncover specific issues.
Following the product launch, the focus shifts from development to mainly marketing and sales. Yet, it’s also important to keep tabs on the customer care or support team because customers themselves will be directly reporting to them regarding any new product complaints (or appraisals). Not to mention, ensure all your brand’s communication channels are made readily available and transparent to the buyers.
It might seem like customers are reluctant to talk about their problems with you, but in actuality, a poor feedback system can simply turn them off.
5. Keeping Monitoring and Improving
Successful companies collect customer feedback and analyze their performance. As customers’ behaviors change over time, what used to work might no longer be feasible. To stay relevant, you must listen to the voice of your customers regardless of where you are in the product development process.
A Voice of the Customer solution to improve your product development (R&D) process
Wonderflow’s AI-driven text analytics tool for mining customer feedback can help product developers easily extract valuable consumer insights. From beginning to the end of the product lifecycle, simply access the Wonderboard to pull granular reports on what customers are saying, no matter what stage you’re at in product development. Learn more by speaking with one of our VoC experts or check out our Product Development (R&D) solution page.