Probing Customer Insights – The Voice of the Customer Uncovered

July 11, 2013

Every day, U.S. businesses leave untold thousands of dollars on the table because they failed to collect insights from their customers. An unfilled need here, a missed opportunity there, or even the dreaded “we did not know you could do that;” these are regular occurrences that restrict growth.

Your markets have a line-of-sight to opportunities that can transform your business or prevent you from making these missteps. How do you harness that wisdom? The answer is simple: primary market research.

Often referred to as “Voice of Customer” research, these projects put an organized structure around a series of questions.  The resulting answers will help you understand how the marketplace views your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  As a reality check, this type of market intelligence is an invaluable asset in any organization’s strategic planning process.

In the Delaware Valley, DVIRC has seen dozens of businesses benefit from an examination of how they service their markets and position their brands.  It doesn’t matter what size they are or what industries they compete in; taking the pulse of your market is an effective way to inform your strategic outlook.

Take Westchester, Pennsylvania-based Schramm Inc. for instance. A leading manufacturer of land-based, hydraulic drilling equipment, Schramm was recently looking to introduce a product designed to expand its reach into new markets.

To avoid any costly missteps, management recognized the benefit that primary research would play in defining potential product attributes and gauging interest levels among current and prospective customers. Over a few short months, DVIRC’s research team helped Schramm target roughly 150 unique companies. They surveyed roughly 60 of these companies, interviewing executives with decision-making authority to learn about their offerings.

The results called out a hierarchy of attributes the respondents deemed essential.  Fortunately for Schramm, these attributes—quality, reliability, and ease of service—were also the ones most commonly associated with their brand. Ultimately, one obstacle was that 48% of their prospective customers had limited or no awareness of how Schramm’s telescoping-mast, hydraulic top-drive rigs operate, which meant they needed to market accordingly.

Upon delivery of the findings, Schramm’s management felt empowered.  It not only generated leads for the new line but offered direct insights into the features and benefits of its offerings.  With this knowledge, the team in Westchester knew exactly what needed to be done to succeed at market.

An example from a smaller company is HPT Pharma, a Warrington, Pennsylvania-based packaging solutions provider for the pharmaceutical industry. HPT was looking to learn why customers buy from them and identify areas of weakness among competitors.  Strategically, they were looking to use direct market insights to help fortify their brand and drive their messaging.

Like Schramm, HPT engaged DVIRC to develop and conduct a Voice of Customer research survey.  The project captured specific quantitative and qualitative data from key contacts, including:

  • Overall satisfaction
  • Areas for improvement
  • HPT’s strengths
  • Market awareness
  • Competitive comparisons
  • Perceived capabilities and expertise

Ultimately the feedback supported HPT’s branding and market positioning. It also managed to bring clarity to some of the client-facing fires and opportunities within the business. In essence, the time spent talking to and collecting feedback from the customer base became something of a playbook for growth.

One important outcome dealt with HPT’s pricing structure.  A number of respondents said they viewed the company as providing a higher value than alternative offerings.  That information cleared the way for a moderate price increase, enabling HPT to increase their profit margins.

If you are struggling to decide what you can do to improve your business, perhaps it is time to seek outside counsel from your current customers. After all, when was the last time you had a truly meaningful conversation with them? The odds are what you don’t know could be costing you money, or preventing you from increasing profits.

To learn more about how primary research can support your growth strategy, call 215-552.3800 or click here.