Discovery methods can be used to find out needs or problems that customers are not fully aware of (Best, 2005). Watching a customer use a new product can provide insights into how a product can be improved. Different ways to enhance customer value can also be identified. Customers’ use of products can, for example, be observed through the following methods: empathic design, a day in the life of a customer, and lead user analysis (Best, 2005). Empathic design is an observational approach to understanding customer needs and discovering customers’ problems and frustrations when using the product. Videotaping customers’ product use is one form of empathic design. One example of this is the “follow-me-home program”, with which product developers get permission to videotape consumers using the product for the first time in their home. Another approach is to “become the customer” through the method called a day in the life of a customer. This can, for example, be done by videotaping a customer using the product, thus allowing the researcher to better understand the customer’s needs. Lead user analysis is yet another method to collect valuable information from customers’ use of products. With this type of analysis, the focus is on customers who are more knowledgeable and experienced users. Important knowledge with respect to how a product can be improved can be collected from lead users. These customers sometimes even extend the application of the product to solve other problems or to achieve a more complete customer solution.
In addition to the understanding of how customers use the products, it is also important to understand their expectations. The Kano method can be used to discover product features that drive customer satisfaction and cause customer dissatisfaction. Moreover, this method can be used to identify new product features as well as features that can be eliminated. Data is collected through, for example, surveys or focus-group interviews with customers, with the objective to identify five types of product features and their relative importance. The five product feature types are: must-be, one-dimensional, attractive, reverse, and indifferent features (Best 2005).
Best, R.J. 2005. Market-Based Management: Strategies for Growing Customer Value and Profitability. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.