Organizations have been capturing customers’ perceptions and preferences for their offerings for more than a century; the term “marketing” as a means for satisfying the needs of the customer first appeared in dictionaries in 1897. Today, market research can be taken to whole new levels thanks to the technologies available to truly capture the voice of the customer. It is these technologies that are collectively referred to as Voice of the Customer Data, or VOC. Here is an overview of today’s VOC opportunities.

 What is VOC, and why does it matter?

According to Stephen Gaskins of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, VOC describes “the in-depth process of capturing customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions.” This is market research at its best: the use of technology to organize the collective desires of a customer base by priority and “in terms of relative importance and satisfaction with current alternatives.”

When are the best times to gather VOC?

  • When launching a new medical device
  • When revitalizing and relaunching a medical device
  • Pre- and post-acquisition
  • When aiming for an increased competitive edge
  • When aiming to reach a new market
  • When aiming for increased medical device sales

What are the best ways to gather VOC?

The VOC gathering process may entail qualitative and quantitative research. The data might be gathered by methods such as these:

  • Focus groups
  • Targeted surveys
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Market analysis
  • Benchmarking
  • Contextual inquiry, in which the researcher observes the consumer(s) in the course of normal activities and inquires about the experience (Cell phone companies and social media outlets make good use of contextual inquiry.)

How is a VOC study developed?

This is where the research and development team and the marketing department join forces. The former provides a baseline of information about how the medical device is meant to operate and the latter contributes the vision for the device’s impact on humanity. Together, these forces give way to the right context for the study, accurate interview or survey questions that will uncover the data needed to successfully bring the device to market, and a framework for the desired hierarchy of outcomes from the study.

What’s the difference between reactive and proactive data?

As Six Sigma® explains, reactive data is that data gathered after a customer has used or experienced the medical device. “Data that is collected before the customer experiences their first, or subsequent, encounter with the business’ product or service is proactive data.” In most cases, it is beneficial to gather both reactive and proactive data.

Reactive data may be gathered via customer, investor or stakeholder surveys and can provide insight into how the medical device, brand and/or marketing can be refined and better delivered for increased loyalty.

Proactive data may be gathered via focus groups, market analysis, benchmarking or surveys. It is ideal to conduct a study to gather proactive data when launching a new medical device.

Never before has it been easier to gather VOC data. There is a myriad of platforms available to automate the process. Even just conducting regular surveys to capture the voice of the customer can go a long way in ensuring long-term provider and patient use as well as competitive edge.