MePSS Webtool - Tool (Level 4)

Worksheet W17 - Exploring Customer Needs
Table of Contents
1. Objective
2. Putting into Practice
3. Implementation
4. Software, templates and other support
5. Call on Resources
6. Literature, examples and background information

Objective Table of Contents
The objective is to identify customer needs and explore ways to satisfy these needs better.

Putting into Practice Table of Contents

2.1 When and why should this tool be used?

This tool should be used at the beginning of the PSS Idea Development phase, before the design work. The results could be used to orient the design of the solution towards solutions that respond the best to customer’s needs.

2.2 Who should use this tool?

Expert people from the marketing and/or sales department as well as design people can participate in the brainstorm.

Implementation Table of Contents

3.1 How should this tool be used?

Step 1 – Market definition

The space within which new PSS ideas are looked for should be defined.

To visualise the market definition, the company puts the functionality of the current product/PSS or foreseen PSS in the middle of a figure. Then, essential characteristics (e.g.: physical characteristics of the product, market segment targeted, etc.) that define possible new PSS ideas and are inside the scope are placed inside the figure. The main characteristics can be identified by thinking about the main attributes of the PSS and what the PSS is trying to achieve. Below is an illustration of such a figure:

Step 2 – Improving understanding of needs fulfilment

A match needs to be made between the needs that are identified and the way in which a product/PSS fulfils those needs/functions.

To explore needs fulfilment, identify which case you are in:

- Means end chain analysis: To be preferred when the base of the PSS is a product and the targeted market segment for the PSS is the same as for the current offer. This is an adapted version of a rather standardised tool that is frequently used for research among customers;

- Needs and function analysis: To be preferred in case the PSS is very much service oriented and that the concept is very innovative and cannot be tested using means end chain analysis. Can be executed by marketers or by company representatives.

A - Means end chain analysis

Brainstorm on the following issues:

§ What are the main functional and psychological benefits?

§ Does the current product/PSS really provide these benefits?

§ Which benefits can be optimised or added?

§ What PSS attributes could provide these benefits?

Establish a hierarchical value map based on 6 types of value (result of brainstorming or laddering interviews) like the one below:

B - Needs and function analysis

This approach tries to overcome the limitations of the means-end analysis. It opens the mind to new kinds of customers, widening the thinking.

The list of questions partly overlaps the means end analysis (marked by *):

1. Take the current product/offer. What are its applications?*

2. Which functions does it fulfil for end users/customers, in other words which functional benefits does it provide?*

3. Who are the end users, and who are the other (perhaps professional) users?

4. Which needs does natural paint/ painting satisfy for customers? In other words what psychosocial benefits does it give?*

5. What needs are not fulfilled completely, and should /could be satisfied better? In other words: what psychosocial benefits can be improved? Reflect upon market research if that has been carried out.

6. Which meanings, connotations and attitudes are attached to the product? Which meanings and connotations should be stressed to make the offer more attractive, and which negative meanings and connotations should be overcome or evaded? (Question to evoke extra psychosocial benefits and relate them back to product/PSS attributes.)*

7. Take a step back and look from a distance at the function that the product under scrutiny, paint, has in society. Enumerate economic functions, cultural functions fulfilled by painting and the social meanings of painting. If relevant mention for whom paint fulfils these functions.

8. Enumerate (exhaustively) the products and services that the new PSS may replace. In which existing and imaginable products and services does natural paint have a function?

9. Select which functions or attributes should be stressed (underline or mark them). Maximise this functionality. (Think of new PSS ideas that maximise functionality!)

Once the issues have been raised and addressed, the functions can be mapped according the 6 types of values listed in means end analysis (i.e.: concrete attributes, abstract attributes, functional consequences, psycho-social consequences, instrumental value, terminal value).

3.2 Result

The result is a pyramidal diagram such as the one on page 2, that sums up the main needs of the PSS.

3.3 Input needed/ data required/ data acquisition process

Good knowledge of customers and relatively well-defined ideas for the PSS.

Software, templates and other support Table of Contents

4.1 Software

This tool does not require any software.

4.2 Templates and other support

Call on Resources Table of Contents

5.1 Personnel and time needed

At least half a day’s work in a brainstorming session.

Literature, examples and background information Table of Contents

6.1 Methodological References

Excerpt from: MEPSS Success and Failure Factors Methodology and Tool Testing (15 January 2004, Robert Wimmer, Wilma Aarts, Gerd Scholl et al) and inspired from Gutman’s means end chain model (1982)