Listening to the Voice of the Customer
How can you understand customer needs and increase benefits of new products? ASSA ABLOY is using Voice of Customer (VoC) exercises to do just that. Customer interaction can consist of one-on-one customer interviews, observational studies and conference-style events. VOC exercises have helped ASSA ABLOY identify barriers, evaluate processes and identify solutions to the next generation of security needs.
One of these exercises was a 3-day conference event that took place in San Antonio, Texas. Client attendees included representatives from Twitter, Arizona State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to name a few.
More than 100 end-users and other attendees from across the North American security industry also attended.
Voice of the Customer is our effort to ensure that our solution strategies, our go-to market strategies, are centered around direct input from our customers.
Identifying customers’ problems
Based in Austin, Texas, Brandon Arcement is the Director of Product Marketing for Physical Access Control at HID Global. The VOC exercise in San Antonio was his first.
“Voice of the Customer is our effort to ensure that our solution strategies, our go-to market strategies, are centered around direct input from our customers,” says Arcement. “This is pre-product innovation, where we’re looking for trends. We’re trying to identify our clients’ pain points so that we can eliminate them – or give them more pleasure points.”
The team’s original intent was to gauge clients’ attitudes and future needs related to cloud services and mobile devices. But conversations with clients took the team in an unexpected – yet welcomed direction.
“A lot of these conversations were just organic,” says Arcement. “And what came across consistently and explicitly is that the number one concern from many is around emergency management and mass communication. That’s what’s keeping these security professionals awake at night, and that’s what we want to ‘geek out’ about as technology providers.”
Thomas Komola is Manager of Security and Emergency Management at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended the VOC gather in San Antonio.
“It was an excellent opportunity to meet and discuss with industry colleagues,” says Komola. “It was a dialogue with the others to see where they are, to learn if they had a stumble when going down a certain path, what might they have done differently when working with a new technology. This helps us all to work toward better technology.”
“At MIT, it’s critical for us to have the capability to lock down. We’re not only a school, we’re also a tourist attraction, so there are sections of the campus that, given the type of building, are impossible to lock down. It would be like locking down the Central Park,” he says.
Working with MIT students, the school has already developed and implemented a cell phone app that includes a security component.
“This app has a directory, a map, links to shuttles and those sort of day-to-day things. But there’s also an emergency notification section,” says Komola. “So, if we activate the campus-wide notification system, it triggers a notification for our students that is delivered to that app.”
Maybe credentials could also be an excellent way to communicate to building occupants in the event of an emergency.
But that focus on mass communication and emergency management got Arcement and his HID team thinking.
“When you look at a large, secure facility, one thing we know about all the facility occupants is that they use a credential – whether an HID badge or something else – to get into that facility,” says Arcement. “But, after hearing the concerns and the needs of our clients, we’re now asking ourselves: How can we evolve that credential? If that credential can do more than simply give a person access to the facility, maybe it could also be an excellent way to communicate to building occupants in the event of an emergency.”
To provide this customer value, credentials of the future will obviously need to have a lot more connectivity
Arcement admits he’s looking well into the future – but that’s the whole purpose of the VOC exercise. “To provide this customer value, credentials of the future will obviously need to have a lot more connectivity with the outside world than a traditional access card or fob. But this was a big takeaway for us.”
By Rachel Sa