Cover Story: Let Customers Be Your Guide
According to Roman, "if it turns out you can't, or it turns out those [segments] are going to be too small for you to build a business on or drive significant revenue from, then … why spend the dollars or the airtime interviewing those kinds of segments? Let's instead look at larger slices that will move the needle, revenue-wise."
"A lot of [the VOC process] was the upfront planning," Stein says. "Ernan giving us the framework, and my team and I engaging with him to decide how to customize it, creating the research cells to figure out who we were going to talk to in the interviews, making sure the results from that were going to be actionable, and then creating an interview guide that tied very directly to our objectives."
The research was a constantly evolving conversation in which interview scripts and goals were tweaked to explore ideas discovered in earlier interviews, and HMS' team was involved in every step. "We didn't wait until the end of the project," Stein continues. "Ernan didn't package up something and give it to us and say, 'Here's the executive presentation, God speed!' It was an ongoing process … [of] saying, 'We learned this; let's test that. Let's ask this [next time]. Let's probe that.'"
That interaction, guiding the HMS team toward where they would find the most actionable insights, gave the team a much better understanding of their customer base than they would have gotten from simply commissioning the research, according to Stein. "Going through the hours of research we did … [We] got far more out of it than we would have if we had gone through it in a strictly linear fashion and waited for the results to be cleanly packaged up at the end."
Bottom of Mind
"When you're within a company, sometimes you look at your offerings as being far more top of mind than they really are," Stein says about one of the core insights HMS gained. "I don't think we had a true sense of the limited share of mind [HMS] had from our consumers. … Within that whole real estate transaction, the home warranty very frequently just got lost." In the VOC process, HMS "learned how small the [HMS] share of mind was, but also how low the level of engagement was that we were starting from."