Trade shows are usually great events to present your offerings and to stay up to date on your market. Each day of a show there are many opportunities to visit with customers in sales and public relations roles. A lot of competitive intelligence and market insights can be gained from walking the show and talking to exhibitors and visitors.
Can effective Voice of the Customer (VOC ) be gathered at a trade show and be used as an effective customer experience management tool? By all means, the answer is yes. But VOC collection needs to be planned, and needs to follow the basic rules for the research method that you’ll employ at the trade show. Often this isn’t the case, and we hear examples of company representatives who list “participating in a trade show” as VOC, so they can check the box. As with our other VOC train wrecks, with trade shows we need to be watchful of what we are really doing, and not kidding ourselves that we’re collecting projectable information – unless we are following a protocol. This is essential to successful customer experience management
Hopefully by this fourth installment in the series on VOC, you’re seeing a pattern of behavior that should make you take warning. The goal of this series is not to deter you from reaching out to customers, but rather to be sure you don’t confuse customer contact activities with VOC. If you do, you’re likely to collect information that isn’t representative of the market and customer needs. So when the Doblin group did a study of innovation – particularly on the success of new products or services – they found a hit rate of only 4%. This is a pathetic statistic, especially for large companies that make large investments in R&D and have built substantial processes to commercialize their goods and services .
So why are leaders willing to spend millions and billions in innovation, yet almost nothing in VOC and customer experience management? Plain and simple, this is penny wise and pound foolish. Let’s position trade shows as ways to introduce, sell, and promote our products, and gain some level of competitive intelligence, but not conduct meaningful VOC.