Product, Customer, User Requirements Solutions for Product / Marketing Managers and
Customer Intelligence Analysts

1:1 i-Collaboration is an essential product management tool.  Keep reading to learn how the 1:1 process applies to product requirements definition, or skip ahead to learn about post-launch monitoring and a summary of 1:1 features and benefits.

Defining the Total Customer / User Requirement

Good product (and service) management requires the components of the "total customer and user requirements" be defined, documented and aligned across the organizations responsible for developing, delivering and supporting the product. The "total customer requirement" has to do with everything that surrounds the product such as

  • Product Line Breadth & Plans
  • Marketing Information
  • Sales Process
  • Pricing
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Account Management
  • Customer Service
  • Corporate Communications

The "total user requirement" on the other hand covers everything about the product itself from the time it's acquired through its termination. As an example, the "user model" for application software would comprise such things as:

  • Functionality / Capabilities
  • Usability & Navigation
  • Performance & Reliability
  • Training & Documentation
  • Support & change requests

The 1:1 i-Collaboration approach defines and memorializes the total customer and user requirements via two database models comprising components, each component's actionable sub-components, and for more complex offerings, sub-component attributes. As an example, the sub-components for application software Functionality / Capabilities could be data entry & editing, calculations, search / query capability, management reports, graphics, user parameters, algorithms and flexibility.

The resultant customer and user requirement models serve as the "customer and user scorecards," for tracking how well requirements are being met and where and how things need to be improved.

The 1:1 i-Collaboration approach can be employed to obtain requirements from customers and users. To garner customer requirements, existing customer contacts can be invited to an online interview, which ask them to indicate what components of the "total customer requirement" most need to be altered, how and why. To best understand user requirements we suggest a two-phase online interview whereby users are asked to:

  • First, identify the business functions they feel are broken, good as is, and which could be improved.
  • Second, assess the "broken" functions per the "total user requirement model" to pinpoint areas most needing change, the change they are looking for and the impact that change will have on them and the business.

Management's use of the 1:1 i-Collaboration approach has several significant advantages:

  • Applying broad-based, objective, pinpoint user assessments and requirements to the product development plan will help ensure speedy customer and user acceptance.
  • Having a broad-spectrum of user insights at one point in time will speed product specification and greatly reduce the risk associated with gathering requirements over an extended period as the environment changes in ways that significantly impact customer and user perceptions and priorities.
  • By having a critical mass of objective hard data, management will spend less time on research and more time on overseeing development and constructing effective marketing and launch plans and materials.

"The 1:1 process covers all the bases helping us not to miss some important factors. The data and analysis is complete, well-structured and fresh, which gives us a great deal of confidence in making our investment decisions."
Ian Browde
Director, Strategy & Business Development

Post-Launch: Monitoring the Total Customer and User Experience

Customer and user requirements are specified within the context of their environments at a "given point in time." But these environments are in a constant state of flux caused via changes in finances, market conditions, business objectives, offerings, systems, business processes, organization and government regulations.

Because of environmental flux, management needs to stay close to the "total customer and user experiences" post launch. It would be ideal to have a critical mass of customers and users regularly assess their "total experience" to see what most needs to be changed, how, and the value in doing so.

The problem however is: How do you get a large number of customers and users to provide complete, clearly-defined, immediately actionable requirements in a form that can be aggregated, quantified and sorted out based on market impact and sup-ported by indisputable data within days versus months -- and do it cost-effectively?

There has been no good answer to this question until now because traditional approaches were not designed for this purpose.  These methods come up short when it comes to defining customer and user requirements:

  • Corporate customer surveys are designed to measure or gauge how products and services are perceived but not for specific, immediately actionable requirements in a timely manner. The "meat" is in the text comments but text comment analysis is tedious, error- and omission-prone and time-consuming, and therefore, costly in direct labor cost, and even more so, in lost opportunity costs.
  • Simple do-it-yourself online survey tools are great for honing in on specific issues and they can be great ad hoc tools.  But they rarely achieve a critical mass of participation, and issue coverage is fragmentary at best. These surveys are no substitute for a comprehensive, systematic process.
  • Focus groups can get to the specifics but are often hijacked by a dominant personality so the specifics may for things that do not have broad-based customer or user support.
  • Strategic account interviews are specific but so narrow in scope they don't reflect overall market needs. These personal interviews are effective in understanding what "strategic" accounts want and why but they do nothing to enhance product awareness and enthusiasm across the customer base . . . and since most fresh ideas emanate from risk-taking small- to- mid-size firms, this approach is responsible for many lost opportunities.

With the above-mentioned methods there is always internal bias and error in constructing the agenda in terms of what is ad-dressed and how it's addressed, and there always bias and error in the analysis -- plus these methods consume a great deal of time as customer and user needs change -- rendering many product proposals "dead on arrival."

Unlike traditional customer and user surveys, focus groups and interviews, 1:1 i-Collaboration helps management focus on what a crucial mass of customers and users most want as it relates to the "total customer or user requirement" with the assurance of obtaining actionable, hard data sans any bias, errors or delays.

In addition to the unique "total customer and user requirement models" noted above the 1:1 i-Collaboration approach features an unparalleled online interview that garners far more actionable data because customers and users:

  • Drive personalized interview with respect to what is most important to them -- with each interview being unique.
  • See the interview being entirely relevant to their "total experience" and their priorities.
  • Can construct three complete important requirements (what, how, why) in an optimal 8 minute timeframe.
  • Respect the comprehensive interview content and its logic and speed and really go the extra mile to be constructive and to important, meaningful information.
  • Consistently give the 1:1 process high marks and a strong "don't change it" endorsement with tens of thousands of customers and users having participated in the process to date.

Upon conclusion of the online interview phase, 1:1 real-time analytics aggregate, score and rank all change requests based on impact. Our staff then completes the process by correlating like requirements and preparing recommendations that are quantified, complete, immediately actionable and virtually indisputable.

This is not to say that the 1:1 process is the basis for all product / service decisions; it isn't. There will always be "large accounts" decisions, "let's get the deal" decisions and decisions based on other considerations.  But 1:1 i-Collaboration provides management with hard data on what is most important to a critical mass of customers and users thereby saving management considerable time dealing with requirements that do not have broad customer and user appeal.

"1:1 Corporation's data is quantified, objective, complete and actionable; far superior to anything I've ever seen. Most impressive is their turnaround time; we were able to set priorities in a couple of weeks, months sooner than if we had to wade through all those comments.
1:1 is a very clever approach."
Erik Staubo
Director, Applications
PeopleSoft / Oracle Corporation

Summary: 1:1 User i-Collaboration Features & Benefits

The 1:1 i-Collaboration approach has several unique features:

  • Components of the "total customer and user requirement" are consistently termed and structured via the product- and service-specific customer and user requirement database models.
  • Personalized online interview process is directed by participants; they focus only on what is important to them as it relates to what they feel most needs to be changed. Every interview is unique to the participant.
  • Requirements (change requests) are constructed by customers and users via the online interview, pinpoint what needs to be changed, how it needs to be changed and the business case for making the change.
  • The digital form of the requirements, which are constructed via menu selections, enables them to be electronically aggregated, scored and ranked based on impact in real-time sans bias, errors and delay.
  • Because of their exposure to the comprehensive total requirement models, customers and users are more aware of the product and what surrounds it and therefore see more value.
  • Participants love the personalized process giving it high marks and completion rates; people want to feel important; people want to communicate effectively; people want to be heard. 1:1 i-Collaboration gives people what they want.

As a result, management will:

  • Spend far less time researching and negotiating priorities and more time managing and creating.
  • Have more clarity with respect to requirement impact as a result of hard, complete data.
  • Make customers and users more aware of product features, and therefore, product value.
  • Heighten its credibility with customers via objective, fully relevant, participant-driven process.
  • Expand customer loyalty by involving far more customers in the requirements process.

"The results of our first project with 1:1 have carried more force for change within the organization than all other surveys of recent memory combined. This is because of the very high response rate we achieved and because the nature of the 1:1 interview ensures that survey results focus squarely on the most important issues."

Miranda Nash
Director of Operations, Server Technologies
Oracle Corporation

Go beyond online surveys, focus groups and strategic account interviews . . .
. . . to broad-based, personalized, real time 1:1 i-Collaboration.
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