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Defining Customer Value with VoC

Strategies, Methods and Tools for Developing Must-Have Products

Date: November 18 - 19, 2008

Location: Atlanta, GA

What if you plan a party and nobody shows up? Sometimes that's the feeling you get when you put a Voice of the Customer (VoC) process in place. You wonder whether all the research and analysis will have any impact on the success of your products. How will you justify the cost and evaluate the impact? What clues can tell you in advance that you're putting your dollars into something that will have a measurable return?

This hands-on, interactive two-day conference will immerse you deeply in the strategy and practice of creating and implementing a VoC process that directly affects product success. The seminar is formatted to provide you with a strong foundation in the key elements of building and sustaining an effective VoC process on Day One and is followed up with multiple implementation case examples and interactive discussion time to begin to apply key concepts to your own organization’s development process. With lots of opportunity for discussion and practice, as well as case studies presented by participants from a wide range of industries, this event offers an unprecedented opportunity for you to jump-start your VoC efforts and keep them on track.

Participate in a working session that walks you through the critical steps of the VoC process:

  • Selecting the right customer matrix: Determine which and how many customers to visit to get the best return on your investment from on-site visits. Explore the subtleties of conducting a global project, consider cultural and practical issues that impact how you conduct VoC around the globe.
  • VoC for incremental versus new-to-the-world products/services: Break the "solution-focus" tunnel vision in customer interviews. Discover truly new-to-the-world solutions by shifting the focus from customer solutions to customer problems and customer environments. Re-evaluate the value of incremental solutions and understand how the right mix of new-to-the-world and incremental projects in your portfolio contributes to long-term success.
  • Translating customer needs into product requirements: Learn the key steps involved to transform raw VoC data into usable, measurable product requirements. Find out how to make sense out of the reams of interview material you will gather from customer visits.
  • Right-Sizing VoC to fit the project: Discover proven tools you can use to scale the project before you waste scarce resource; institutionalize the VoC process so you're not starting from zero at the beginning of each project.

Conference Chairperson and Workshop Leader

Sheila MelloSheila Mello
Product Development Consulting, Inc.

Sheila Mello is the author of the best selling book Customer-Centric Product Definition: The Key to Great Product Development and co-author of Value Innovation Portfolio Management: Achieving Double-Digit Growth Through Customer Value. Sheila is the managing partner of Product Development Consulting, Inc. (PDC), and is a widely known, well-respected expert in the field of product development. Her clients benefit from her many years of executive and hands-on experience in product development, software and hardware, engineering, marketing, quality, manufacturing, sales and service. Sheila has done extensive research in processes for defining customer requirements and is an expert in helping companies implement and institutionalize market-driven product definition programs and value based portfolio management processes.

Sheila has helped over 75 companies -- Fortune 500 companies in diverse industries and smaller high growth organizations -- to speed time-to-profit and market acceptance, achieve greater product predictability and profitability, identify improvement opportunities, and build capabilities that directly impact bottom line results. Before joining PDC, Sheila held director and vice president positions at Bolt, Beranek & Newman, Wang Laboratories, Palladian Software and Distribution Management Systems, and was a principal consultant with Arthur D. Little, Inc.

Sheila earned a Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, in mathematics from Tufts University. She is a member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), and the American Marketing Association.

Keynote Presentation

Taking VoC Research to the Next Level - A Catalyst for Innovation

Kelly Styring
author of groundbreaking research study and book, In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag

Most women who carry a purse cannot imagine how life would go on without it – it’s a home away from home. With women purchasing roughly 70% of all groceries and influencing most major purchases in the household, the role and influence of the purse on transactions cannot be underestimated.

Kelley Styring’s groundbreaking study, In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag, uncovered billions of dollars in product innovation and marketing opportunities by delving into the contents and context of the only instrument that connects the home, where consumer needs occur, and the store, where these needs are fulfilled: a woman’s purse.
See this engaging and interactive presentation that will change the way you think about VOC input, going beyond the spoken word and delving into anthropology and archaeology to better inform your innovation programs.

From this presentation attendees will learn:

  1. How to take Voice of the Customer research to the next level, going beyond interviews and uncovering unarticulated needs and compensatory behaviors.

  2. How to take Voice of the Customer and generate excitement within an organization.

  3. How to apply Voice of the Customer to the development of successful innovations in any product category.

Kelley Styring is a Consumer Strategist and Principal of InsightFarm. Kelley founded Insight Farm in 2003 and the consumer strategy and market research consultancy is dedicated to helping industry-leading Fortune 100 clients drive business growth through consumer insight.

Before founding InsightFarm, Kelley managed market research for consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, learning how people around the world diaper their babies and take showers, among other things, and used that insight to develop and market new consumer products. She then joined Frito-Lay (part of PepsiCo) where she helped introduce the world to WOW! Olestra-based snack chips, managed market research for the company’s $8 billion snack product portfolio, and served as Director of Consumer Strategy and Insights. She’s also designed products for NASA and Black & Decker. Kelley earned her BA in industrial design from University of the Arts in Philadelphia and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.

Kelley’s 2007 groundbreaking research study and book on women’s purses and their contents, In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag, has been featured at conferences like M2W™-The Marketing-to-Women Conference, Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer Insights Summit, and the Institute for International Research’s Shopper Insights in Action and their Youth Marketing Mega Event. It has also been the subject of media coverage around the world, including Advertising Age, Brandweek, Fortune, Reuters, Good Morning America, ABC Radio’s Satellite Sisters, Quirk’s Marketing Research Review and the U.K.’s Research.

A few of the innovations Kelley has helped bring to market include: Black & Decker’s Dustbuster Redesign and their Cordless Appliances (now GE); Olay Bath Bar and Body Wash; Pampers Premium, Swaddlers and Bibsters; Frito-Lay’s WOW! Olestra Snack Chips, Natural Line, STAX and Flat Earth Line; Tostitos Scoops and Hint of Lime; Tropicana FruitWise; Quaker Milk Chillers; Pepsi’s Fuelosophy energy drink; Gap Brand’s Forth & Towne;; and positioning for prescription drugs Aromasin and Exubera.

Case Study Presentations

Putting the Consumer at the Center of the Design Process at Google

Margaret Stewart
User Experience Manager

Google has built a reputation as a company that gives consumers what they want, with a minimum of bells and whistles. But how does Google go about understanding what consumers want, and what they need? And how has the company accomplished this in an organization dominated by engineers? Ms. Stewart will talk about what it means to manage the user-centered design practice within Google, the particular challenges and benefits of Google's unique culture, and some things that she has learned about how to put the consumer at the center of the design process.

Andersen’s Journey to Customer Focused Innovation

Christi Cassell
Manager of Customer Knowledge
Andersen Windows, Inc.  

Andersen Windows is a company that has a reputation for innovation in its industry, yet was lacking a process to ensure that the front end of innovation was grounded in a real customer needs.

In this case study session, you will hear how Andersen adopted a robust VoC process that it used to prioritize areas for innovation. This helped develop its long term innovation strategy for both incremental as well as new to the world innovation.

Andersen will share its experience adopting this new process as well as how it has used the VoC process in other business units and product development projects, scaling it to fit each project’s objectives and scope.

Relying on VoC to Gain Entry into New Markets with Customer-focused Products

Dr. Carol Holland
Technical Marketing Manager
Beckman Coulter  

When competitive pressure drove Beckman Coulter to enter the realm of molecular diagnostics, the company faced a challenge. As a leading manufacturer of biomedical testing instrument systems, tests, and supplies with nearly $3 billion in annual sales, the company knew a lot about diagnostic testing, but molecular diagnostics was a new area.

In this case study session, you'll hear about the steps Beckman Coulter took to research this new market and create a brand new product based on extensive customer input. From figuring out what types of lab customers to interview, to narrowing down customer requirements and translating them into product requirements, Dr. Holland offers an inside view of how an established company enters a new market with a customer-focused product. She will also describe how subject-matter experts can work together with in-house product experts for the best results.

Deploying a Cross-Functional Team Approach to Gather, Interpret and Turn Consumer Insights into Innovations

Enzo Piscopo
Director of Insights, Ideas & Impact
The Coca-Cola Company  

The Coca-Cola Company is using their Innovation Ignitor process to Innovate around the globe. This presentation will provide some context and examples on how The Coca-Cola company is using this process around the world to:

  • Create a culture that fosters creativity and innovation

  • Get a deeper consumer understanding by creating direct interactions between consumers and cross functional teams

  • Learn consumers motivations, tensions, passions to uncover un-met needs and areas of opportunities

  • Use lateral thinking techniques to generate ideas that leverage these opportunities

  • Improve, build and combine ideas to ensure they make an impact in the market

Right-sizing your VoC Process for Global Teams

Andrew Fox
Director, Design & Development
SemMaterials L.P.  

Abstract coming soon...

Supporting Design Excellence with a Clear Focus on Customer Needs

Stephen Scharf
Senior Staff Scientist and Design for Six Sigma Specialist, Molecular and Cell Biology Division
Applied Biosystems  

Check out this Q&A with Stephen Scharf, To Go Faster, First Slow Down, from PDC's Online Newsletter, Discoveries.

Design for six sigma-based Design Excellence is a specific design approach that provides a set of tools, best practices, and a cultural orientation to ensure that quality and value is "built-in" for customers and end-users of products, processes and services. If Design Excellence provides a "House of Quality" then the foundation upon which that house is built is Voice of the Customer(VOC). VOC provides the structure, prioritization, and specific value propositions of customer needs and requirements that provide the framework upon which superior design is built to meet a very broad range of customer needs.

In this presentation, Stephen Scharf will discuss the strategic and tactical value that VOC brings as a key requirement, as well as an "enabling" process for supporting and driving Design Excellence.

Key takeaways:

  • How VOC drives appropriate portfolio management and product-development planning

  • How to adapt a robust VoC process for global projects and/or projects with varying constraints

  • Understanding the value of open ended interviews in the life sciences industry and the need to focus on customer needs versus technical details


Conference Facilitators 

Wayne Mackey
Product Development Consulting, Inc.


Mr. Mackey has been a Principal with Product Development Consulting, Inc. since 1997. Prior to joining PDC, he worked in industry for 20 years in high tech, aerospace and automotive fields. He is a natural change agent and leader, having counseled Fortune 500 companies, major universities (Stanford, MIT, Carnegie-Mellon) and government agencies in product development, supply chain management, and rapidly implementing enterprise-wide change. Mr. Mackey also has worked as a senior scientist, program manager, engineering manager and systems engineering manager.

Wayne Mackey's expertise is grounded in over twenty years of hands-on leadership of large engineering, manufacturing, and procurement organizations. His management consulting is focused on product / service development, and he is especially effective in collaborative design, metrics, portfolio management and business strategy implementation. He is co-author of the best selling book Value Innovation Portfolio Management: Achieving Double-Digit Growth Through Customer Value, and co-author of the upcoming PDMA Toolbook for Product Development 3.

Mr. Mackey is an internationally acknowledged expert in metrics and has been a keynote speaker on achieving rapid organizational change, partnering and applying the voice of the customer to product development. He earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and economics from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in engineering, from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California

Richard Tait
Product Development Consulting, Inc.


Richard's accomplishments are highlighted by a 22 year research, management and consulting career with DuPont that included positions as senior research physicist for DuPont Central Research and Development, planning manager for DuPont Corp R&D Planning, and R&D lab director for DuPont Diagnostic Imaging. He was also a founding member and innovation manager for the DuPont Center for Creativity and Innovation.

Richard brings a wide range of consulting insights and expertise to his work with clients. He was a principal consultant with DuPont Consulting Solutions where he led DuPont's Corporate New Product Network and implemented rapid cycle-time product development processes in several DuPont business units. Richard helped lead the effort to develop and implement DuPont's Business Initiative Process for managing business growth initiatives, and he was instrumental in establishing DuPont's Asia-Pacific Venture Support Team. With PDC, Richard focuses on Market Driven Product Definition (MDPD) projects, Portfolio Management and Product Development Management. He has done extensive work with companies in the chemicals industry.

Richard has a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell and a B.S. in physics from the University of Virginia. He is a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) and the Commercial Development and Marketing Association (CDMA). He is a certified New Product Development Professional (by the PDMA) and was a co-developer of the "Institute for Inventive Thinking" for the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Recent publications include: "Innovation - Taking Ideas to Market" (published in the book Total Creativity in Business and Industry: Roadmap to Building a More Innovative Organization); "Better New Business Development at DuPont" (co-author with Robin Karol and Ross Loeser - published in Research Technology Management); and the book Value Innovation Portfolio Management (co-author with Sheila Mello, Wayne Mackey and Ron Lasser published by J. Ross.)




7:00 – 8:00 Registration and Continental Breakfast
Conference Day One
8:00 – 8:30 Introductions / Review of Agenda
Sheila Mello, Conference Chairperson
8:30 – 9:30 Why should you have a Voice of the Customer process?
  • The benefits of a robust Voice of the Customer process

  • Where the process fits into your product development process

  • Who should be involved and why

9:30-10:15 Developing your Customer Matrix
  • Define the mission of the customer visits

  • Methods to ensure breadth of interviews represents your market

  • Guidelines for how many customers to visit

  • Exploration of functions to visit within a customer

  • Approaches to selecting the actual customers to visit

  • Exercise: Define your mission for today and develop your customer matrix
10:15-10:30 Refreshment Break
10:30-12:00 VOC for incremental and new to the world products and services
  • Developing an open ended interview guide

  • Techniques for interviewing

  • The role of story telling

  • What to avoid

  • Exercise: Create an interview guide and practice interviewing
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Translating the voice of the customer into product requirements
  • Extracting the customer story

  • Techniques to translate customers’ expressed thoughts into unambiguous customer requirements

  • Achieving group consensus on the customer requirements

  • Operationally defining and quantifying customer requirements

  • Approaches to flow down to product requirements

  • Exercise: Develop the customer story, customer requirements, and product requirements to fulfill your mission
2:00-2:15 Refreshment Break
2:15-3:45 Right-sizing your VoC to fit your project
  • What are the risk factors to consider?

  • What aspects of VOC map to each level of risk?

  • How does this fit into portfolio management?

  • Exercise: Establish the appropriate risk factors and ranges and associate with a level of VOC
3:45-4:15 Summary of Day One Learnings
Taking VoC Research to the Next Level - A Catalyst for Innovation
Kelley Styring,
Principal, InsightFarm and author of groundbreaking research study and book, In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag
5:30-6:30 Networking Reception


The second day of the conference provides attendees with an opportunity to hear how advanced practitioners are successfully applying the Voice of the Customer to their innovation processes and resultant benefits achieved. After each segment of case study presentations, attendees will break into small, facilitated group discussions to examine how the key learnings from each case example could be applied or adapted to fit into their own organizations as well as to problem solve around any potential barriers to implementation.


7:00 - 8:00 Continental Breakfast
Conference Day Two
8:00 – 8:15 Opening Remarks
Developing an Innovation Process that Maintains a Clear Focus on the Customer's Voice
8:15-8:45 CASE STUDY
Putting the Consumer at the Center of the Design Process at Google
Margaret Stewart,
User Experience Manager, Google
8:45-9:15 CASE STUDY
Andersen's Journey to Customer-Focused Innovation,
Christi Cassell, Manager, Customer Knowledge, Andersen Windows
9:15-10:00 Application Sessions
10:00-10:15 Refreshment Break
VoC for Incremental & New-to-the-World Innovations
10:15-10:45 CASE STUDY
Relying on VoC to Gain Entry into
New Markets with Customer-focused Products

Dr. Carol Holland,
Technical Marketing Manager, Beckman Coulter
10:45-11:15 CASE STUDY
Deploying a Cross-Functional Team Approach to Gather, Interpret and Turn Consumer Insights into Innovations
Enzo Piscopo,
Director of Insights, Ideas & Impact, The Coca-Cola Company
11:15-12:00 Application Sessions
12:00-1:00 Lunch
Adapting Your VoC Process to Fit Varying Project Scope and Needs
1:00 –1:30 CASE STUDY
Right-sizing your VoC Process for Global Teams
Andrew Fox
, Director, Design & Development, SemMaterials L.P.
1:30 –2:00 CASE STUDY
Supporting Design Excellence with a Clear Focus on Customer Needs, Stephen Scharf
, Senior Staff Scientist and Design for Six Sigma Specialist,Molecular and Cell Biology Division, Applied Biosystems
2:00-2:45 Application Sessions
2:45–3:15 Cross-Sharing of Application Sessions Learning
3:15–3:30 Key Action Steps
3:30 Seminar Adjourns

Who should attend:

This session is recommended for VPs, Directors, and Managers of Product Development, Marketing, Engineering, as well as Sr. Managers of Customer Strategy Implementation, Six Sigma Black Belts, Product Managers, Program Managers and Project Managers involved in product definition. Excellent for both marketing and engineering to attend together – get a jumpstart on implementation.

$1995/person. Fee includes program materials, luncheons, continental breakfasts, networking reception and refreshment breaks.

Team Discounts:
Groups of 3 or more may deduct $100 per person. Groups of 6 or more, please call 800-338-2223 for special pricing.

On day one, registration/continental breakfast begins at 7:00am and the day ends at 5:15pm; on day two, breakfast is available at 7:00am, session begins at 8:00am and concludes at 3:30pm. See the course agenda for specifics.

Location & Hotel Accommodations:
The session will be held at the

The Westin Atlanta Airport
4736 Best Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30337

For reservations please call 888-627-7211. A limited block of rooms is available at a discounted group rate of until October 29, 2008. Please reserve early and be sure to mention that you will be attending "Management Roundtable's Voice of the Customer Seminar" to receive the preferred rate.

No-Risk Guarantee:
Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed – money-back or credit. If you’re not satisfied with the quality of this program, let us know in writing and we’ll refund your registration fee.

You may send a substitute attendee in your place at any time with no penalty (please inform us in advance, if possible). Cancellations made within 5 business days are subject to a $200 administration fee or the full fee can be credited towards a future purchase. No-shows are liable for the full fee.

Workshop Attire:
We recommend "business casual" and suggest that you also dress in layers when possible to remain comfortable—event facilities are notorious for temperature fluctuations.


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Conference brochure

Download conference brochure

How to register

Register for this event:

Or register by phone:

Call 1-800-338-2223 or 781-891-8080 (9:00am - 5:30pm EDT)

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