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Workshop One
How to Interview Customers:
Skills, Tools and Secret Success Tips

Gerald M. Katz
Executive Vice President
Applied Marketing Science, Inc.

Even with the best training and coaching, most product development teams report that the interviewing process itself remains one of the hardest skills to acquire, master, and maintain.  Strangely enough, for most product developers, talking to customers about their wants and needs continues to feel like an uncomfortable, unnatural act!

Whether you conduct your interviews individually or in groups, at the customer’s location or elsewhere, ethnographically or with direct questioning, there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct Voice of the Customer interviews.  The right way produces dozens of rich, insightful wants and needs, detailed enough to result in an innovative new product or service. This workshop will focus exclusively on interviewing skills, and will include detailed instruction on:

  • How to introduce and frame your interview

  • How to put the customer at ease

  • How to organize your questions

  • How (and how not) to ask them

  • How to probe to get beyond the initial response

  • How to draw out the unspoken needs 

By incorporating practice sessions, role-playing, and videotaped critiquing of participants, in a lively, fun-filled half-day format, this workshop will provide participants with:

  • A set of replicable interviewing skills consistent with each participant’s own style

  • A clear understanding of and the ability to recognize the distinction between needs and solutions

  • A heightened sense of confidence in speaking with and interviewing customers

  • A way to draw customers out and get them to articulate their real underlying (and often unspoken) needs

  • A set of skills that can easily be shared with other colleagues

Gerry Katz is a recognized authority in the areas of new product development, design of new services, and market research, with 30 years of consulting experience.  At Applied Marketing Science, Inc., he has led more than 100 major client engagements employing The Voice of the Customer, QFD, and a large number of other marketing science applications.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the Product Development & Management Association (PDM) and is a certified New Product Development Professional

Workshop Two
Beyond Quantitative Research: Integrating VOC for Less "Ho-Hum", More "Wow"

Sheila Mello
Managing Partner
Product Development Consulting, Inc.

Companies often cite poor product definition (what the product or service must provide) as one of the leading contributors to a product’s disappointing marketplace performance. This is due, in part, to the inherent difficulty in managing the product definition process. Organizations must clearly identify customer requirements in order to direct and stimulate design innovation. However, more times than not, market documents contain generic features rather than specific requirements. The products that result often lack qualities that truly capture or motivate the customer.

By attending this session, you will learn how to:

  • Make descriptive customer data useful for engineers and others involved in all stages of product development, from concept development to full-scale production.

  • De-emphasizes internal agendas within the realm of product development decision making.

  • Conduct in depth, ethnographic type research

  • Formulate interview guides

  • Do customer interviews in a manner that elicits insights about the customers' world that is the key to developing innovative new products

  • Synthesize information and draw conclusions about the target customers' environment

  • Translate customer “desires” into measurable customer requirements

  • Reach consensus on the key customer requirements

Getting the Customer's Pain: Using Customer-Centered Definition to Drive Product Development" - an interview with Sheila article

Sheila Mello is the managing partner of Product Development Consulting, Inc., based in Boston, Massachusetts and author of Customer-centric Product Definition – The Key to Great Product Development”. Her executive management experience encompasses a range of functions in various industries, including product development, quality, engineering, marketing, software, operations, service and sales. In her consulting work with PDC, Ms. Mello has been instrumental in leading cross-functional team implementations, the use of unique and effective methods in product definition and strategy, and product development process improvements. She holds a BS (magna cum laude) in mathematics from Tufts University and is a member of the Product Development Management Association, American Marketing Association, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Workshop Three
Must-Have or Nice-to-Have?
Using Conjoint Analysis to Measure and Decide

Brian Ottum
Ottum Research & Consulting

Going out and hearing the ‘voice of the customer’ is often easy.  The hard part is separating out the “nice to have’s” from the “must have’s.”  Companies need a succinct ranking of what is most important to customers.  Conjoint analysis is an excellent tool for this. 

Conjoint analysis is a sophisticated tool for uncovering the realistic importance of product & service features, as well as price sensitivity.  Conjoint is much more accurate than old fashioned direct questioning because it more closely mirrors actual purchase decisions.

This workshop will cover the basics of conjoint analysis: a little theory and a lot of examples.  Attendees will gain an understanding of where they can use conjoint in their own projects, and what results they can expect.

Key Take-Aways:

  • A working definition for conjoint analysis

  • When to use (and when not use) conjoint analysis

  • What you can expect from the results of conjoint analysis

  • A clear understanding of the difference between conjoint and discrete choice

  • Assumptions and limitations of conjoint analysis

  • Pros and cons of available software tools

Brian D. Ottum is President of Ottum Research & Consulting, in Saline, MI.  His practice is focused on new product development consulting and innovative market research tools.  Ottum Research & Consulting serves clients in the packaged goods, durables, and high technology industries.  Prior to starting his own firm, Brian worked in new product development and international market research for Procter & Gamble.  He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, an MBA from Xavier University and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin.  Brian also teaches new product development classes at conferences and at the University of Michigan.

Available Mon-Fri 
9:30am-5pm est

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Supporting Orgs

Applied Marketing Science

Product Development Consulting, Inc.