The contemporary customer is more accustomed to being involved in product design. They know what functionalities they need (translation: want), what they want their product to look like, and what they’re willing to pay for it. And, to top it all off, they have more options than ever, meaning they can be picky.

To adapt to this new reality, product developers have to listen to their customers and incorporate their feedback into new products. Unless companies regularly solicit their customers’ opinions (good and bad), they risk losing those same customers. More than that, though, they’re losing a major opportunity to identify trends that help increase their customer loyalty, grow their customer base, and drive new revenue.

Feedback can be directed to anything design-related: styling, color, performance, quality, price, and so on. Hearing customers’ feedback early in the design process can help save money and reduce design time by preventing expensive, time-consuming and difficult revisions.

6 Ways to Collect Feedback

There are many effective ways to collect customer feedback, including the following:

  • Focus Groups: Gather a small, targeted group of consumers for in-depth discussion and feedback about proposed new products.
  • Beta Programs: Give a new product to a small, targeted group of consumers ahead of its release to let them use it for a time and provide feedback.
  • Social Networks: Use sites like Twitter and Facebook to encourage discussions and gather direct feedback. This approach is especially useful for companies with younger demographics and is good for building customer loyalty.
  • Product Reviews: Allow customers to post product reviews and rate their satisfaction with, and performance of, the product.
  • Sell-through/Return Rates: Use analytics to determine which products are returned most often and which products sell best.
  • Relationship Tracking: Use surveys and other rating systems to aggregate customer feedback in an easily-digestible form.

Using PLM to Collect Feedback

When soliciting consumer feedback in the concept design phase, teams can use Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems to create storyboards. These can be printed out or shared electronically to assist with focus groups or concept planning meetings. Combining data from the methods described above with these storyboards helps teams incorporate customer feedback into their ever-evolving designs.

Teams can also use PLM systems to collect valuable information by looking at past products’ performance reviews, trial data, and sales. While this isn’t direct feedback from consumers, revealing information about buying habits and popular product types can be gleaned from analysis of the data in these systems.

PTC Windchill is the fast, secure, web-based PLM software offered by PTC. It allows companies to manage product content and processes with industry-leading features, including:

  • Single source of product information/content enables development efficiencies, reduces errors and rework
  • Complete product definition and collaboration capabilities expertly drive cross-enterprise understanding of information – regardless of source
  • Repeatable, end-to-end process support and automation speeds time-to-market and reduces development cost
  • Secure, industry-standard internet architecture delivers a safe, high-performing technology platform
  • Provide product information access to all team members in a web-centric and scalable environment
  • Collaborate on centrally organized digital product information through markups and real-time collaboration
  • Electronically markup Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) including the ability to approve, reject or question specific designs
  • Automatically generate PDF files for secure document reviews, as well as record annotations and watermarks without altering the actual document

Interested in learning how to use Windchill and the rest of PTC’s software? NxRev offers a variety of seminarstutorials, and customer service to help users get the most out of the PTC suite. Give us a call at 408-986-0200 to find out more.

For more information about PLM and customer feedback, read PTC’s article How to Incorporate the Voice of the Customer.