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Friday, May 11, 2012

What's the Customer Think?


This past weekend I went to Product Camp DC – a 'un-conference' for product managers and others interested in the business to consumer segment; individuals interested in leading a session offer 120-second pitch and meeting participants vote on which topics are included in the program.

Take-aways for me from this meeting was the emerging trend of seeking customer input in a meaningful way.

PeterCorbett spoke about his experience launching Grandstand at SxSW (South by SouthWest Tech Event) in the new product competition. Grandstand is a stadium–venue advertizing-customer preference-social media concept to increase awareness of products combined with game theory for instant prizes for participants expressing their preference. Here's an example: Grandstand at a baseball game with several product ads; after the tally the beer brand won; participants received a code for a free bottle of that beer at any restaurant or bar within 3 blocks of the stadium for several hours after the game. The customer voting is useful information for the product sponsors, in addition to the visual exposure.

Shardul Mehta led a session about kicking off a new product project with a meeting of all the stakeholders with a goal of everyone having the same understanding of the product and start working relationships with others on the team. TO get alignment a representative from each is designated as a Judge, who provide feedback to the overall team about goals and approach. The Judges participate in each iteration of the planning, serving the same vetting role.

Steve Johnson spoke about using win-loss analysis to help deliver a successful product. The take-away from the session was 10 discussions are better then 1,000 survey forms to get useful and valid information from customers. Reverting to talking directly with customers instead of relying on surveying adds greater depth to the data collection.

The trend to include the customer in the development process can help greatly in avoiding the 'Edsel Syndrome' of a great product with no market. In addition, customer input can further guide the product team on features to include or exclude in the final product.

In my experience, the customer knows what they want and need when they are ready to buy. Why don't we actively included them in the development of new and revised products? The downside may be revisions which create a blockbuster product or service.

What's your thoughts about getting customer input?
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