Have you ever spent a lot of time and a lot of effort creating a product or a service only to find out it’s not what the client wanted? Quite deflating, isn’t it? And sometimes, that kind of waste could be fatal to a company.
Many companies think they know what their clients want. Very few take the time to investigate and confirm. In the Six Sigma DMAIC process, we don’t want to guess, we want to be certain. To do so, we reach out to our customers, clients, partners, and suppliers to ensure we hear what is really important to them.
Voice of Customer Overview
Why is the Voice of Client Important?
In short, soliciting the voice of clients is important because, without customers, you have no company. The best way to get higher customer satisfaction is to ensure you deliver what they want when they engage you.
The better you deliver the customer requirements, the higher the customer satisfaction. Very satisfied customers are loyal and may even help to promote your products and services.
Many people fall into the trap of assuming the customers’ needs based on prior experience. To truly understand, you have to ask and clarify continually. Your customers’ wants and needs are always changing. If you do not know what your customer wants, how can you possibly know if you are delivering what is expected of you?
Why Solicit the Voice of Client?
We want to solicit the voice of client so we can follow the principles of continuous improvement. For example, you would want to provide a better post-purchase experience so that your company can increase sales by moving customers into the loyalty loop rather than the less stable active research loop.
How do we find the Voice of Client?
Data collection is covered later on in the Measure phase of DMAIC. However, we want to obtain the customers’ expectations, as they state them in their own words.
Some examples might be:
- High quality
- Great service
- Quick delivery
- Flexible options
- Durable goods
Proactive vs. Reactive Voice of Client Collection
Voice of Client data collection can be thought of in 2 ways: Proactive and Reactive.
It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive in life. The same principle applies to gathering the Voice of Client. In the proactive model, you reach out to people before there is a problem or the task is complete. Here are a few ideas:
- “Go to the Gemba” – get out on the floor and watch what is happening in real life.
- Use mock-ups and beta versions to test with volunteers before getting into production.
- Send out surveys to a potential customer base.
- Interview clients and partners to see how your processes are working. Ask their opinions: “What would you say if we offered X?” “How does this approach sound to you?”
- Model office. Running simulations is a great way of getting advanced data.
Just because proactive is favored over reactive doesn’t mean there is no value in reactive sources. In some cases, gathering reactive data may be easier. Your organization likely has great stores of reactive data. Here are examples;
- Online feedback- You may have comments on your website or letters to the editor. There are review sites and social media comments. If you created an iPhone app, iTunes keeps a rich array of user feedback. Restaurants can leverage Yelp. Service providers can use Angie’s List. Many, many options here.
- Customer service logs- if people are returning a product or calling in for support, you can easily quantify and stratify that data to find the most common issues.
- You can always send a survey right after performing a service or making a sale.
- Net Promoter Scores- this is a great concept. This wonderful article describes it here.
Now that we have Voice of Client, we can move on to translating that data into specific Critical to Client measures so that we can take action on improving them. Remember, the Voice of the Client is the customer’s specification limits.
Voice of Client Videos
Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Voice of Client Questions:
Question: Which of the following is most important in evaluating and understanding design intent? (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)
Question: The most important aspect of functional requirements is that they: (Taken from ASQ sample Black Belt exam.)
(A) describe a single, measurable performance
(B) describe how a product or service should operate
(C) be traceable to the voice of the customer
(D) provide upper and lower performance limits