Keep up with customer pain points

offering portfolio as a taxonomy
My blog post Define a taxonomy of customer-pain-points and map your products & solutions against them got a response that asked for a taxonomy that works as a standard across all industries containing all possible pain-points that customers could have.

Here is my answer:

Each business or organization has to get to know their respective customers or audiences very deeply in order to list all possible issues that trouble them or could trouble them. This list has to be written from the point of view (!) of the customers or audiences and with their choice of words (!).

Then this list can be structured as a taxonomy and the vocabulary can be used to articulate all unique value propositions (USP) that the business or organization has to bring to the table.

Once the taxonomy exists, all unique value propositions, marketing content, sales content, human resources information about subject matter experts’ contact details / learning and development content / training content, and other content can be mapped against the taxonomy. This will reveal gaps and outdated versions.

The suggested approach to articulate a THE one taxonomy as the overall standard across all industries on the planet sounds very ambitious. I’m with Jorn Barger and Daniell Koller who write on quora that

“You can’t build a universal ontology using natural language. Its words are too vague.” […] “You can’t build an universal ontology, but I would like to add that – for most of the use cases I have seen until now – THE one correct & complete ontology is not needed. […] To my understanding it is much more important to be able to work on your own ontology subset and to link it with somehow more general documented wisdom. […] My experience from this kind of standardization projects is that you might be able to manage the technical side of it, but the organizational and managerial aspect get very complicated once you target a singel taxonomy […]”

As stated above, I think each business or organization has to go through the process of crafting this taxonomy for themselves and keeping it fresh (in times of mergers and acquisitions etc). The very process of crafting it in the voice of the customer or audience, will help the content and the conversations, the employees have, to resonate better with the customers/audiences. The customers need to be surprised by the extend to which the sellers speak their language and know about their pain before they actually expressed it.

When I worked at Nortel, we had the role of an information architect for Nortel. This role was in charge of keeping the taxonomy (of all products, services, and solutions) fresh and ideally making each taxon on the higher level sound like a need in the voice of the customer.

semantic web or web 3.0 and sales enablement

I agree that there is value in seeking standards and one common ontology, especially when we really reach the times of the semantic web / web 3.0.

Then applications need to know which taxon is a treatment/intervention/mitigation for which other taxon etc…

The company BizSphere (which introduced the role of the information architect at Nortel and provided a semantic solution including software to edit the taxonomy) also developed the approach shown in this screen shot.

Full disclosure: I used to work with BizSphere. Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.

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