Baxter Renal Division
Baxter Renal needed growth in its hemodialysis product line. Past efforts had yielded little innovation, and a new approach was in order. Working with Applied Marketing Science, the team threw out its old playbook and started from scratch with the Voice of the Customer. By focusing clearly on its customers’ underlying needs, Baxter built a breakthrough product that served a global customer base and delivered double-digit growth. Read More.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida
With insufficient and poorly executed market research initiatives, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) did not have the data it needed to drive major process improvements. There was no measure of the relative importance of various satisfaction drivers, and no competitive context, so company management had no way to know what the company did better or worse than its major competitors. BCBSF worked with AMS to produce a Voice of the Customer study focused on plan members. The VOCALYST-derived needs hierarchy revealed seven high-level strategic needs, 25 mid-level tactical needs, and approximately 100 original detailed needs. Perhaps most surprising, many of the things that health insurance companies traditionally had not even dreamed was their responsibility, frequently appeared in the list of needs revealed by the AMS study. These results provided a clear strategic framework for examining key areas and determining priorities moving forward.
Guidant / Boston Scientific
Guidant Corporation, now part of Boston Scientific's Cardiac Rhythm Devices (CRD) business, embraced the use of Voice of the Customer as the foundation for all of its product development initiatives. This included a number of cases in which AMS trained and coached their teams through the VOC process, as well as a number of cases in which they asked AMS to carry out the research for them. Since their target group of customers is high level (electrophysiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, etc.) and difficult to recruit, it took a special capability to conduct this research - a combination of sophisticated technical knowledge and executive interviewing skills.
One of the company's more interesting Voice of the Customer studies had to do with the role of the referring cardiologist. Since their direct customer, the implanting physician, is almost never the original diagnostician, they are almost always dependent on traditional cardiologists to refer patients whom they believe to be good candidates for CRD therapies. The study uncovered a number of little understood factors that heavily influence whether and to whom these people refer their patients, leading to a number of new marketing programs to educate and encourage these referrals among cardiologists.
As part of its Commercial Excellence program, IDEX, a leading manufacturer of commercial pumps and related products, engaged Applied Marketing Science to lead a Voice of the Customer training program throughout the company. Using a “train the trainer” approach, AMS first conducted Voice of the Customer training with about 40 managers from all over the world and cutting across all 35 of the company’s operating divisions. We then accompanied them in training several hundred more managers in four additional sessions held in North America, Europe and Asia. Following this training, more than 50 teams were assigned real Voice of the Customer projects for their individual business units. About three months later, follow-up sessions were held for the teams to report their results and gain further advice on project execution and completion.
A few years ago, the world’s largest manufacturer of microprocessors embarked on a very public strategy to develop
specialized microprocessors for various applications. In order to better understand customer needs surrounding these
applications, the company began to develop its own Voice of the Customer process in 2004, with the help of Professor
Abbie Griffin and Applied Marketing Science. Using a combination of ethnography and sit-down interviewing, followed
by a group affinitization process and large-scale quantitative prioritization surveys, the company has now conducted
more than 20 such studies on a host of topics, ranging from extremely simple consumer applications, to highly
advanced applications with IT Directors at very large companies.
One of the most compelling products to emerge from this strategy is the v-Pro™ microprocessor for business desktop computers. The v-Pro™ technology addresses a number of critical problems for IT Directors who must manage a large “fleet” of company computers, and ensure their security from external corruption and tampering. The v-Pro™ offers several new features - that have proven to be extremely attractive to IT Directors - which emerged from the identification of key unmet needs in the Voice of the Customer process. Launched in mid-2006, the v-Pro™ became the fastest product in Intel’s history to exceed $1 billion in revenue. Now in a subsequent release, the v-Pro™ continues to add significantly to the company’s profitability.
JP Morgan Chase
AMS participated in Chase’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiative to conduct Voice of the Customer and QFD studies involving customers who purchase multiple financial products. Like many major banks, Chase had many different products, but they were all operating as separate product lines in separate parts of the organization. Their goal was to be able to share data and identify opportunities for cross-selling throughout the organization. But the company wondered how customers would react to this increase in marketing. Our study showed that customers don’t mind being cross-sold to if it’s appropriate to them – their ages, family make-ups, spending habits, relative wealth, etc. The study provided solid justification for a major investment in systems development, with the goal of merging their customer information, and becoming smarter about their customers’ financial needs.
In partnership with academic researchers at a leading medical school, our client - a multinational medical device
manufacturer - developed a breakthrough mechanical ventilation system that represented a potential quantum leap in
clinical effectiveness and patient comfort. Given this “new-to-the-world” technology, however, the manufacturer
faced uncertainty in how customers would respond.
MAQUET engaged AMS to help develop a positioning strategy prior to its U.S. launch. After participating in a professional conference of respiratory therapists and pulmonologists, where the technology was presented, AMS held extensive in-depth interviews with conference attendees to assess their understanding of the system. Furthermore, our team investigated clinicians’ most pressing questions, and recommended a communication strategy to build credibility in the market quickly.
National Starch & Chemical (Training)
National Starch & Chemical, a multinational manufacturer of specialty chemicals, adhesives, and food ingredients, embarked on an innovation initiative to enhance the value delivered to its customers in the face of increasing commoditization pressure and rising raw material costs. Working with AMS, our client embarked on a training and coaching program to internalize a Voice of the Customer process in several of its operating units. Over two and a half years, AMS led eight multi-day training sessions with product scientists, marketers, and salespeople, in both the U.S. and Europe. During these sessions, our clients learned how to design a Voice of the Customer project, develop the right questions, interview customers effectively, and analyze the output, to identify new insights that are changing the way our client thinks about its customers.
This leading manufacturer of industrial coatings and other commercial materials began its relationship with
Applied Marketing Science several years ago. As part of its Corporate Quality initiative, PPG began to train product
development teams across most of its major divisions in the use of Voice of the Customer. These teams then
conducted a number of highly successful VOC studies throughout the world, on topics as diverse as applications
for polyurethane coatings, auto paint used in body shops, and eco-friendly uses for fiberglass.
Products that emerged from these applications include a chemical agent resistant coating used in military applications, a new material used for golf ball covers, and an advanced fiberglass product used in wind power generation. This latter product allowed PPG to acquire a major share of this rapidly expanding industry.
The Good Cents Home program was an incentive program to encourage home builders to install energy-efficient electric systems and appliances in their new homes. The program had historically relied on monetary rebates to create these incentives, but these were being phased out by the regulatory authorities. AMS was asked to perform a major Voice of the Customer study and a QFD exercise, and then work with their team to re-design the program. Through this effort, many non-monetary incentives were identified that had high appeal to home builders. The new program was introduced with greater-than-expected market success, and the number of Good Cents Homes actually grew in the years immediately after introduction. The Good Cents Home trademark was ultimately identified as a marketable asset of the company and was sold at a considerable profit to the firm.