Many years ago, one of my bosses mentored a novel practical lesson. In order to learn and solve customer issues our whole company was asked to visit a customer factory and spend time with the operators. The idea was to learn the users’ experience first hand. Even though our company was a small-size business, it was still quite an impressive sight to see a long procession of cars arriving at the customer site to learn and observe. And it goes without being said that customer was more than impressed (albeit a little bit overwhelmed) to see our dedication. The customer was very appreciative and willingly shared their daily work experience with us. This helped us in designing a product which sold very well with this customer and others like them.
Explaining Ethnographic Research
In simple words Ethnographic research means to conduct your research/voice of customer surveys on-site together with the customer, living in their shoes and feeling the joys and pains of their work. No other form of customer survey comes closer in understanding customers issues and thereby generating better product requirements than to actually ‘camp out’ at a customer site. I also find this type of VoC is the closest method where both ‘product’ and ‘project‘ sides of the business come together. This as you can imagine leads to finding the best solution for a customer which ultimately leads to a better product design. I also want to go as far as by saying that better products are not designed by brainstorming in an office environment but by observing and ‘camping out’ with customers.