Voice of Customer Research
Information is the pathway to success, and Brooks Stevens’ design research methodology leads to informed design that generates results. Capturing the voice of the customer prior to design activities brings meaning and relevance to the pending design that might be missed if this important research step is skipped over. We’ll discover new insights about your customer and product you never would have dreamed of.
This qualitative research methodology allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the target user’s native “habitat”. Being able to observe natural behaviors in context provides a unique perspective to capture insights as they naturally occur in context, rather than in a response to survey questions or more structured research methods.
Our field research often follows a “Day in the life of ____” where we follow research participants through a complete cycle of interactions with products. This could include “shop alongs” where we observe product evaluation and purchasing decisions first hand, and augment the observations with conversational questions to draw our key insights. Very often it’s that unarticulated need that comes out only through contextual observations that points to a key feature that may not currently be on a product in the market. Whether the ethnographic research takes place over an hour or a day, we capture the moments with photography and video to support our field notes.
After an ethnographic research phase, where we keep the questioning and discussions light and conversational, it’s often advantageous to conduct an in-depth interview with an individual participant while the research activity is fresh in their mind. Here we can recall a specific observation, but rather than interrupt the moment and possibly spoil a key insight, we can take the participant back to that moment to gain deeper insights. Often, we take the participant back to that moment by reviewing a photo of video, then asking more pointed questions such as “What were you feeling then? What were you frustrated with? What surprised you?”
Focus groups are best and often used to quickly and efficiently gain insights into participant’s specific opinions and beliefs about product uses, features, and needs. These groups are more structured with prepared stimuli and discussion guides. We carefully recruit participants that offer diversity as well as compatibility such that we capture a broad range of insights, without any individual dominating the session. Our trained facilitators are skilled at allowing the insights to freely flow, all while avoiding “group think” and getting off track. We often use focus groups to assist in vetting multiple conceptual designs or validating that earlier captured insights have been implemented properly in a new product design.
A buddy group is a hybrid of ethnographic research, an in-depth interview, and a focus group. Here we recruit a participant based on criteria established between us and the client, but then allow that participant to recruit 1-2 others from their network to join the research activity. For example, if designing a new juvenile product, we would recruit a mom, who in turn would invite 1-2 other moms from the neighborhood. We would meet in a home, providing a contextual environment, where the participants will feel comfortable sharing insights.
Do you need help uncovering new opportunities with voice of customer research? Contact us to learn how their team of researchers can assist you.