How can unspoken customer needs be uncovered?
Eastman is a global specialty chemical company that produces a broad range of advanced materials, specialty chemicals and fibers that are found in products people use every day. Eastman makes the materials that others make into products. To stay ahead of the competition, Eastman focuses on the future needs of their customer’s customers. What will the consumers of future desire? What materials will our customers need to create these products to meet these desires? While Eastman was skilled at understanding their immediate customers’ requirements – material processing parameters, technical performance requirements, material cost etc. – understanding the desires of their customer’s customers, the end consumer, necessitated a different inquiry skillset. We were asked to help develop this new skillset with Eastman’s marketing and technical representatives.
The program were to create and deliver an engaging learning experience to:
Develop and cultivate a mindset of curiosity and questioning.
Strengthen the skills of questioning, listening and observing to identify unspoken customer needs.
Make the learning relevant to the participant’s function and role in the organization.
The program was a multi-day highly experiential series of exercises and fieldwork that had participants to learn how to:
Ask powerful questions.
Suspend their own assumptions and expertise in service of discovering new insights.
Plan and conduct a “real world” questioning session out in their community.
Process the answers and observations using powerful tools and techniques to gain insights.
Work collaboratively to achieve maximum benefit from insights and perspectives.
Apply the new skills within the context of their role in the organization.
“This was one of the most well-coordinated and well-executed programs that we have witnessed. It was a pleasure to work with such a professional and engaged group of talented individuals.”
Senior executive following the program
The majority of participants planned to immediately apply what they had learned on customer visits the following week.
Key Success Factors
The design and delivery of the program was a collaboration between James Michalski, Market Insight and Strategy Manager at Eastman, the engaging Carolyn A Dragon of The Poet's Way, and myself. Because we worked so closely together we were able to design a successful program that was tightly linked to Eastman’s priorities and culture.