Only customers provide results and customer satisfaction is the key result you are looking for. I think the smartest companies ask their customers what the requirements should be for the product or service and then work backwards? The not so smart, designs a product/service and then figures out ways to market and sell it. Which one are you?
A simple process you may want to try to obtain the voice of your customer is outlined below:
1. Identify your customer: Do not make this a generic step or skip over it. If you have difficulty, provide clarity by segmenting your marketing channels. Even down to one person if you have to(just for practice).
2. Gather the initial voice of the customer by surveys, focus groups, complaints, correspondence. Also, feel free to use “Tribal knowledge” but make sure you test it. An example would be is to send out a survey to 10 customers in a particular region that is covered by a sales person. Have the salesperson(distributor, rep) also complete the survey and compare results. You may find out that several salespeople have a better understanding of their customer base and others do not. Interpret and use the data accordingly.
3. After collecting the data, formulate it and ask your customers to rate the importance of each input. A cool way to do this is in an online survey that would just move them to another screen after their initial input. You may even want to do a survey to the masses and then have a focus group rate the importance of each.
4. Prioritize the requirements based on the Voice of the Customer and determine how they are relative to you based on how difficult it is for you to achieve. This a great place to use a SWOT analysis and start making some intelligent decisions about your product. Often times this list can be used for your Critical to Quality(CTQ) indicators.
5. Use this information to choose the best processes, internally and externally to achieve the desired results.
6. Determine the activities to create ongoing processes and parameters.
Tip: A great tool is the Kano Model that measures three types of Customer needs. Its premise is that if you only do what the customers tell you to do, you are only meeting one-third of the equation. You also have to address performance needs and excitement needs. It is great tool to use so that you can address these issues in step two of the process above.