Customer said …, did you listen?
Why voice of customer matters?
In our drive to continuously improve, the voice of the customer can play a critical role. There are many ways to capture the customer’s voice, depending on what you want to achieve. Do you simply want to know if your customers are happy with you? Do you want to get specific actions to improve your product or service? Do you want to introduce something new to the marketplace, or gain an edge over the competition? This article explores different ways to capture the voice of the customer so that it does you the most good and has the desired effect on your business.
Are you an active or passive listener?
The easiest and simplest way to know if our customers are happy is through passive feedback. For example, look at the number of complaints, warranty claims, or negative responses that are received. A more active approach can be a simple survey with a few questions and or comment boxes. Remember to keep these survey’s short to increase the response rate. If we really want to know if our customers are happy, try using a net promoter score (NPS), which classifies the customer’s responses as promoting (top 20%), neutral (60-80%), or detracting (bottom 60%). NPS scores can, however, vary widely. For them to be useful, it is important to review NPS’s from other similar industries or take the time to track how your own NPS changes over time.
Voice of customer and product development
When we want specific actions to improve our products or services, we can use CTQ or Critical to Quality. This tool translates the voice of the customer, which can be vague and qualitative, into specific, measurable requirements. CTQs are key characteristics whose performance standards must be met in order to satisfy the customer. We use a CTQ tree to take ambiguous needs and turn them into quality drivers. Then, from the quality drivers, we identify performance requirements. Finally, from the performance requirements, we define measurable targets, or CTQs, for each requirement. These targets are what the customer considers as critical to quality, and thus tell us what we need to do or achieve to improve our customer’s experience.
When designing a new product or trying to determine what features are really important to our customers, the Kano model is a useful tool. The Kano model looks at product features or characteristics and categorizes them as expected needs, normal needs, and exciting needs. Expected needs are the things that we must have to make the product or service function. Normal needs are what keep the product or service relevant and desirable (i.e., the more needs we fulfill, the happier the customer will be). Exciting needs are what set the product or service apart from the competition and show it to be leader in the market. Keep in mind that, over time the model shifts. Things that were exciting last year may be normal, or even expected this year. To make the most of the most of this tool, we must innovate, try new things, and see how your customers react to them.
All these tools give us insights to our customers and makes their voice and essential part of doing business. If time and resources permit, the Kano model can show us what is needed to lead the industry. On the other end of the spectrum, we can collect customer feedback from simple surveys or just conversations to tell us how to improve. Each of these tools has its own strengths and weaknesses, but they all can help us discover what our customers want and how we can better provide them with excellence.
About Techam: Techam Solutions is an operations and engineering consulting firm working with small to medium-sized manufacturers, private equity firms and their portfolio companies across multiple industries. We provide a wide range of operations management and engineering services to drive operational excellence and implement solutions that deliver reduced cost, increased performance, and enhance the company’s bottom line. We aspire to be a trusted advisor and a reliable partner who brings meaningful and sustainable value to our clients. For more information, call 316.768.1856 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.