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Home > Design & Innovation, Voice of the Customer > Define Before You Design …

Define Before You Design …

September 20th, 2012

Voice of the Customer (VOC) problemI get a kick out of solving a problem. The more complicated the more of a thrill.  I feel like a Master of the Universe when I solve a problem which has befuddled others.  I get this thrill in work and at home.  We all love being great problem solvers.  And our entire educational system is geared to solving problems.  We have problem sets in the back of every math chapter.  We are given problems to solve in every test in every subject.

But there is a problem with being taught to solve problems – the problems are defined and that is rarely the case in real life.  In real life, all we really have is a mess and the first step is to DEFINE the problem.  And nowhere is this truer than when trying to figure out why customers aren’t buying your product or service.  Or when you want to launch a new product or service for which you are being judged by customers’ acceptance.

The fact is that the first step in defining Voice of the Customer (VOC) is to define the problem.  And so there are three steps we must follow to properly capture VOC.

First, ask yourself “Who”.  I was recently working with a client and we were sifting through a pile of “customer” feedback.  Much of the feedback contradicted itself.  We were forced to take a step back and ask ourselves who has the problem we want to solve?  We needed to separate indirect from direct voices. We needed to separate primary from secondary customers.  We needed to focus on who was the customer we were trying to please and excite.

The next action was to ask ourselves “What”.  The key is to ensure the What is viewed from the customers point of view!  We can’t look at a customer and say “this is their problem”.  Start there and you are doomed to failure.

Once you know who has a problem and what that problem is, determine Importance.  Resources are finite. Fix the problems about which customers care and to which they react. The key is action.  And if a customer can’t or won’t tell you priority, focus on what actions are taking place.  How actively are they looking for a solution either internally or externally is certainly an indicator of priority?

Download VOC QFD

a short QFD overview .ppt

Now we can talk a lot about tools such as Segmentation, Pugh Matrices, Houses of Quality and QFD. But at its core, any attempt to identify and address VOC with Designed Solutions will always come back to these three steps – Who do we care about…What is their problem…and How Important is it to them.

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