Effective Ways of Gaining Customer Feedback
When developing a new product, it is important to gain as much customer feedback as possible. It is also important to validate the quality of the feedback and know what to act upon, especially when creating an innovative product that is new to the market. Henry Ford famously stated that “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. This blog describes effective ways of gaining customer feedback that can add value to the design of any new product.
This type of forum can be made up of existing or potential customers and is an ideal opportunity to critique competitors products and discuss ideas for new products. A focus group enables early stage feedback to be gained before making any investment in designing a product. They can also be useful for identifying and exploring opportunities that had not previously been considered. When conducting a focus group, it should be taken in to account that certain participants may influence the thoughts of others, which is why it is useful to video record the session so that the behaviour and language can be analysed.
3D CAD rendering is a relatively cost effective way of demonstrating a product idea to a customer to help gain feedback. Due to the photorealistic capabilities of CAD rendering software; materials and textures can be applied to show what the final product would be manufactured from and how it may feel to use. By generating images of the product in its intended environment, the customer can better assess its ergonomics. If the product is part of a wider system or assembly, visualisations can be created to depict this. 3D CAD renders are ideal for gaining a fair level of customer feedback before moving on to the prototyping stage of any project.
On-screen animations are a useful tool for clearly illustrating a full 360 degree view of a product. In order for an animation to be produced, the product would need to be developed to a high level of detail and a 3D CAD model created. As this is a computer generated communication method, the user will have a limited perception of what the product would feel like to interact with. Animations are very useful for demonstrating an exploded product view or method of assembly; they can even be used to help secure investment for the manufacturing stage of a project.
Prototypes are one of the most effective ways of gaining customer feedback. Through utilising rapid prototyping technologies and model making techniques, results can be achieved that look, function and feel like a fully finished product. This allows the user to physically interact with a product and offer highly valuable feedback. Depending on the nature of the product being produced, this exercise can be costly; however, there are a vast number of prototyping methods available to suit a variety of budgets. Prototypes are a very good risk management tool; particularly if high levels of investment are required to manufacture the product. Obtaining positive feedback from a prototype will provide confidence that the product will be successful in the market. It will also provide an opportunity to make final improvements before committing to any large financial investments.