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Getting the Voice of the Customer Right

Mastering the Art of Customer Visits

Date: December 3 - 4, 2008

Location: San Diego, CA

Why This Seminar Is Important To You:

Often customers can’t tell you what they really want – yet unspoken needs not only drive buying behavior, they are a powerful source of new product innovation. Product developers who know how to tap into these needs are steps ahead of the competition.

Everything from knowing what to ask, whom to ask, and how to ask is critical. Just talking with customers, while admirable, can actually lead you astray if done incorrectly. That’s why Getting Voice of the Customer Right: Mastering the Art of Customer Visits will examine how to conduct customer visits – where you can personally enter the world of your customers and learn about their unspoken needs through direct interaction. Programmatic customer visits for product development have been a business practice for over twenty years and if executed successfully, can generate unique customer perspectives that would be difficult to gain from other VOC activities. Focused on best practices and key criteria for success, this seminar will provide participants with practical, step-by-step guidelines to successfully design, conduct and analyze a program of customer visits – specifically, it will prepare you for how to select the right customers, ask the right kinds of questions and uncover needs that customers don’t know how to vocalize. In an economic climate plagued by fickle customers, fierce competition and product proliferation, you cannot afford not to master the art of conducting successful customer visits.

About the instructor

Edward F. McQuarrie is the Associate Dean for Assessment in the Leavey School of Business and Professor in the Department of Marketing at Santa Clara University.  Considered to be a leading VOC expert, McQuarrie is also the author of two ground breaking books on the subject including Customer Visits: Building a Better Market Focus and The Market Research Toolbox: A Concise Guide for Beginners.  His research interests include implementation of a market focus, qualitative research, and technology strategy, on the one hand, and advertising research on the other. He has published articles in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Customer Psychology, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Marketing Management, Marketing Research, Journal of the Market Research Society, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, and others.  His depth of knowledge in the topic area is reflected in support from the Marketing Science Institute among others.

Professor McQuarrie has twelve years of experience moderating focus groups for Burke Marketing Research of Cincinnati, has consulted for a variety of technology firms, and has taught seminars on Effective Customer Visits, Managing Focus Group Research, Marketing Research Methods, and similar topics for Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment, Apple Computer, Compaq Computer, Informix, Sybase, Varian Associates, Cadence Design, and others.

Key Benefits

By attending this seminar, you will learn:

  • When to do customer visits, when to do focus groups, and when it’s better engage in some other kind of market research entirely

  • What it takes to gain organizational buy-in and how to do it

  • How to calculate how many customers, across which segments, you need to visit in order to collect actionable data

  • The importance of assembling a cross-functional team to conduct customer visits and how to prepare these teams to succeed

  • How to design a discussion guide to maximize the effectiveness of a series of customer visits – know what topics to include and how to sequence them

  • What customers can tell you (and what they can’t) - learn how to construct questions that uncover real insights

  • How to assess the economic value of a proposed solution in the eyes of the customer

  • That customer visits can serve dual purposes, both to gather customer input and build relationships

  • Interview techniques that will help you identify needs that customers cannot vocalize – – and know when and how to probe further.

  • Analytical tools for linking the voice of the customer to product design and key business decisions

Course Deliverables:
By attending this seminar, you will obtain:

  1. Best practices for conducting customer visits aimed at gathering VOC data

  2. Step-by-step guidelines to design, implement and analyze the results of a program of customer visits

  3. Specific guidance and advice on how to combine customer visits with other market research techniques to improve business decisions

  4. A reprint of Prof. McQuarrie’s book, Customer Visits: Building a Better Market Focus

  5. Recommendations and advice for your specific customer visit program


7:30-8:00 Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:00-10:00 Session 1:
Where Customer Visits Fit in the Market Research Toolbox
10:00-10:30 Refreshment Break
10:30-12:00 Session 2:
Planning a Program of Customer Visits
12:00 -1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:00 Session 3:
Selecting Which Customers to Visit
3:00-3:15 Rereshment Break
3:15-5:00 Session 4:
Designing a Discussion Guide
5:15-6:30 Evening Networking Reception
7:30-8:00 Continental Breakfast
8:00-10:00 Session 5:
The Art of Constructing Good Questions
10:00-10:30 Refreshment Break
10:30-12:15 Session 6:
Honing Your Interview Skills
12:15-1:15 Lunch
1:15-2:45 Session 7:
Analyzing Customer Visit Data
2:45-3:00 Refreshment Break
3:00-4:00 Session 8:
Wrap-up and Action Items
4:00 End of Workshop


Here's what previous workshop attendees had to say about Mastering the Art of Customer Visits:

"It (the seminar) dealt with real-world, practical every day issues that apply to my work... I enjoyed the course and found it most worthwhile."

Robert Green
Senior Market Development Manager
Keithley Instruments

"The workshop enabled me to perform a more thorough planning of customer visits and helped me to adjust my style...It was two days well spent - the skills I learned will help me tremnedously in the future."

Gilbert Hausmann
Sr. Technology Manager
Tyco Healthcare

"I should have attended a year ago before our customer visit program...We could have doubled the value."

Lois Davis
Global Business Manager

"A very concise and robust workshop that provides useful explanations of the tools and methods to get the most value from the customer visit."

Paul V. Gaetani
Product Manager

"I conduct many customer visits via our Voice of the Customer efforts and found this information helpful, relevant and affirming to the process we follow."

John Flaa
Market Intelligence Manager
HID Global Minneapolis

"This workshop provided me excellent guidance on how and what to ask customers as well as how to analyze customer responses."

Laura Holte
Product Manager
Cyber Optics Corporation

$1995/person. Fee includes all program materials, luncheons, continental breakfasts, networking reception and refreshment breaks. NOTE: This workshop is strictly limited to 35 participants - reserve early to ensure your seat.

Please Note:
The customer visit technique presented in this workshop was developed to meet the special needs of industrial and B2B markets. Specific industries that will gain the most benefit from this seminar include: computers, electronics, industrial equipment & supplies, medical devices, financial services, hospital supplies, and building infrastructure.

Registration /continental breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. on Day 1; session begins at 8:00 a.m. and concludes at 4:00 p.m. on Day 2. See agenda for more details.

Location & Hotel Accommodations:
This workshop will be held at:

Paradise Point Resort & Spa
1404 Vacation Road
San Diego, Ca 92109
To reserve a room via the online booking service, please click here.

To reserve by phone,, please call 858-274-4630 and mention that you will be attending "Management Roundtable's Customer Visits Workshop". A limited block of rooms is available (please reserve early) at a special rate of $169 until 11/10/08.

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 attire in the category of "business casual". It is highly encouraged that you also dress in layers when possible to remain comfortable—please be aware that event facilities are notorious for temperature fluctuations throughout the day of the event.

Workshop brochure

Download workshop 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)

In company training

This session can be brought directly to your site. Benefits include:

  • Lower cost per participant
  • Time savings
  • No travel required
  • Content tailored to your specific needs
  • Implementation is jump-started through team participation and instructor's hands-on guidance

Contact 800-891-8080 for more information and price quote.