The traditional approach to new product development (NPD) can be described to start and end with the customer (Slack et al., 2004). However, the focus on NPD has evolved over the years, from having an internal company view to external market view.
The article titled, Customer Support and new product development (Goffin & New, 2001), takes us a step further in the approach to NPD. It discusses a study undertaken by the authors to understand the importance of evaluating the customer support requirements during new product development (NPD) stage. They stress how important it is to include customer support requirements at the beginning of the design process, rather than at the end.
The study was conducted with the help of five companies, each of which are in different industries, to identify how customer support is evaluated at design stage and its importance in NPD. The results show that customer support is highly important in different markets with vastly different products. Many companies use customer support not only as a means of gaining competitive advantage but also to increase their revenues.
The following seven key elements of customer support were identified for the study:
Maintenance and Repair
The five companies which formed part of the study placed varying degree of importance to the above elements in the NPD process. This is evident from the fact that they are not only manufacturing different products but are in totally different industries.
Although previous studies were undertaken to assess the importance of customer support and NPD, no clear relationship could be established between them. In addition, no methodology was developed to evaluate the requirements of customer support.
This was the first study to understand the relationship between customer support and NPD and how customer support requirements can be evaluated to form part of product design and development.
The following report discusses the article (Goffin & New, 2001), in relation to the current practices in the field of NPD and customer support. In conclusion, the report discusses how it has helped in the advancement of theories in operations management.
Current Practices in NPD
Introduction of new products is a considerable risk for companies, and failure to design and present new products, or modification of existing ranges can lead to a loss in competitiveness and, in some cases eventual business failure. A successful product provides an organization to increase its income. A simple but typical design process for a new product is shown below in Figure 2.1 beginning with identification of customer or market needs, which are transformed into product specification leading to its design and development, and eventually its...