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What is VOCALYST®?

VOCALYST is the most rigorous and scientific method for gathering the Voice of the Customer in use today. Based on the landmark study, "The Voice of the Customer," by Professors Abbie Griffin and John Hauser, VOCALYST helps product managers and marketers gather, analyze, and act upon the Voice of the Customer. Since its inception, AMS has applied VOCALYST to hundreds of cases and industries - in consumer and business settings, with both products and services, and for simple commodity products and highly technical products alike.

Gathering the
Voice of the Customer

The first step of a VOCALYST study produces a complete set of detailed customer needs, expressed in words and phrases that customers actually use. Through in-depth interviews and contextual inquiries, followed by meticulous qualitative analysis, our team identifies a comprehensive list of about one hundred wants and needs. With penetrating questions and perceptive observation, we identify not merely the obvious, stated needs, but also the unspoken or hidden needs - those elusive needs that customers are unable to articulate directly.

On their own, however, qualitative data only tell half of the story. Therefore, our team follows with sophisticated quantitative techniques to help interpret the qualitative customer needs. Customers participate in a unique data reduction method, in which they help organize the complete list of their wants and needs into a hierarchy (also known as an affinity diagram). This visual representation of customer perception helps the product design team determine which needs are related and which may be addressed by a common solution.

A VOCALYST study then prioritizes customer needs on two critical dimensions: importance and current performance. Using a simple scoring model, customers first identify their most and least important needs. Then, customers evaluate the current state of the market and rate one or more existing products based on how well each performs in meeting their needs.

At the close of an engagement, our team analyzes the results and recommends a course of action. We identify those needs that should be the focus of your new product development efforts, those needs that are “must haves”, those that are highly important but currently unmet, and those needs that represent potential areas to deliver “delighter” products.

After a VOCALYST study, your team can embark on a QFD (Quality Function Deployment) exercise to translate customer needs into technical specifications. Or, they can start brainstorming solutions and new product concepts. You can even jump straight into bench engineering to solve your customers’ most important unmet needs. Either way, VOCALYST will position your team for success with a complete and detailed understanding of what your customers want.

Why is Vocalyst better?

Clients continue to choose VOCALYST to gather and interpret the Voice of the Customer because of the clear advantages it offers compared with other tools and techniques. Specifically:

VOCALYST for Voice of the Customer relies on empirically-proven best practices

Unlike other approaches that are unsubstantiated by research, academic evidence is at the cornerstone of VOCALYST. This research proves that this approach to Voice of the Customer adheres to verifiable best practices, including:

  • Reliance on one-on-one interviews and observation rather than focus groups, to yield deeper insights
  • Analysis from a verbatim transcript, eliminating filtering, premature translation, or missed ideas
  • More than one analyst per interview, to ensure that all needs are captured
  • Retention of real customer language rather than force-fitting needs into a predetermined syntax.
  • Customer development of the affinity diagram, leading to a more targeted product

VOCALYST for Voice of the Customer is faithful to what the customer actually said.

Unlike other methodologies that reduce customers’ words into vague generalizations, or twist them to fit an often less clear, rigidly prescribed syntax, VOCALYST yields results that are expressed using customers’ own language.

VOCALYST for Voice of the Customer helps reveal hidden opportunities

VOCALYST considers the importance of customer needs as well as the current performance of existing solutions as separate constructs. This allows product designers to identify potential “delighters” - needs mistakenly not regarded as important.

VOCALYST for Voice of the Customer is “user-friendly”

Experience has shown that there is no “one-size-fits-all” method that works for every product or service category. Rather, there are a set of tools and underlying principals that are adapted to fit the characteristics of each individual category or customer population. Thus, our style and approach to Voice of the Customer is flexible and takes into account individual client needs and circumstances; in fact, many clients describe VOCALYST as one of the most “user-friendly” techniques they have ever used.

VOCALYST for Voice of the Customer is actionable

  • VOCALYST was designed to address the real needs of product and service designers. For instance: VOCALYST is intended to serve as the cornerstone for cross-functional product development teams. It creates a comfortable “bridge” between scientists, engineers, salespeople, and marketers.
  • VOCALYST presents Voice of the Customer data in a form that is ready to use by product developers, whether they intend to use QFD, go directly to brainstorming and ideation, or go straight to bench engineering and systems development.

How can we help?

Contact us to learn about our approach to Voice of the Customer, and how it remains the best way to ensure that you understand what your customers want.