Leading an “Issues and Vision” Discussion with Customers (and Partners)

Tips for Gaining a Lot of Customer Context in a Short Time (and How to Kick Off a Customer Scenario® Mapping Session)

September 15, 2005

What’s the most effective way to capture customers’ current and ideal requirements about your business, about current or potential products and services, about your processes, about the brand experience you offer? Lead an “Issues and Vision” discussion with a group of like-minded customers. Include your distribution partners. Use this technique on its own, and/or use it to kick off your Customer Scenario® Mapping sessions.

You’ll gain these benefits:

1. Your customers and partners will feel very well heard and happy about the dialog. They’ll be impressed by how well and carefully you listened to their issues. They’ll enjoy hearing from others and gaining new insights. They’ll feel it was time well spent. They’ll feel a much stronger bond with your firm.

2. You’ll gain a validated set of prioritized customer requirements even before you begin your customer co-design activities. Customers will build consensus around the issues they care most about and the experience they’d value the most.

3. You’ll have captured a context-rich set of customer requirements, issues, and vision in formats that are easy to share with employees and executives. You can edit the video clips, turn the flipcharts into action plans, and present your findings to a broad group of stakeholders. These findings are very convincing!


When Do You Use a Group Interview around Issues and Vision?

You can use this group interview technique any time you want to gather common issues quickly, to build consensus, and to build a shared mental model of current reality (today state) and vision (ideal state). We’ve been doing group interviews for more than 20 years. Group interviews allow you to gather a lot of information very quickly, while at the same time, seeding strategic conversations.

Whenever you have a set of like-minded consumers or business customers assembled for any purpose, you should think about using this approach to stimulate discussion and dialog. For example, if you run customer advisory board sessions, host user groups, run focus groups for market research, engage customers in usability testing, and/or visit with customers at their place of business or in your stores or branches, you can use this Issues and Vision discussion format to gather rich context and clear requirements.

This group discussion works well whether the topic at hand is improving how you serve customers, gaining customer input into new products and processes, or shortening time to close sales for existing products and services. Think of using this approach to kick off any customer-impacting project or initiative.

If your company uses a two- or three-tier distribution model to service customers, it’s a great idea to bring end customers together with channel partners in order to build a shared mental model of customers’ issues and vision, along with a model of partners’ issues and vision. The hour or so you invest in this kind of dialog will resolve thorny business issues that may have plagued your firm for years.

Always Start a Customer Scenario® Mapping Session with a Customer Issues and Vision Discussion

In this report, we’ll focus on the use of this “group interview” technique as a critical step in running a customer co-design session ...


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