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Voice of the Customer (VOC) vs. Voice of the Customer (VOC) ??

September 9th, 2011 1 comment

For service organizations seeking to grow, excellent service delivery of existing offerings instills trust with the customer. That trust is the cornerstone to successfully launching new services. But the goodwill of that trust can only be leveraged if new service offerings provide NEW value. And excellence in what you do doesn’t guarantee providing that new value. To put it another way, doing something well for someone doesn’t mean you will add value in everything new you can think of or be asked to do for them in the future.
What is common between delivering on current services and new services is the ability to execute. What is different is that the Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC) is well defined in the former case and has yet to be defined in the latter. Defining VOC well is a function of listening well. Execution and listening are critical to both situations. Execution has the same definition in both cases. But the two situations call for two different types of listening.

How does the listening differ? Well, in Service Delivery the target had been acquired at the time of the sale. Therefore, you are listening to determine if you are hitting the target and, if not, how you’re missing and by how much.  In the case of new service design, you are trying to acquire the target. When delivering existing services, customer requirements are well known and VOC must be collected on how well you are performing vis a vis those requirements. With new services, you are more heavily involved in defining customer requirements.

Download a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements


Too often, I see companies launch new services with confidence based on their ability to stay tuned to a specific target and hit it consistently only to fail with a new service launch. The reason they failed is that they never properly defined the new target. Staying on a target and finding a new target are really very different.

For Service Delivery, the primary “listening” or “targeting” challenge is how to (i) monitor VOC and (ii) convert VOC to Critical to Quality. To launch new services, the primary “listening” or “targeting” challenge is to define the value to be delivered per the customer or define Critical to Customer Requirements.

In the end, service delivery VOC is about how to understand your processes while the VOC needed to successfully launch new services is about understanding the customer’s unexpressed needs.

If you would like to discuss, contact me directly.

Voice of the Customer (VOC) – Can You Hear Me Now?

August 5th, 2011 Comments off

Voice of the Customer (VOC)Verizon Wireless “Can you hear me now?” commercials hit home because in our increasingly mobile connected lives we live that moment so many times. Verizon’s implicit message is that not only will you be heard on their network but that they hear you. We all want to be heard and we are frustrated when ignored.

We live that moment when we question whether we are being heard in many other ways including as consumers and business customers. How often do we feel as if we are asking the people from whom we buy goods and services both personally and professionally “Can you hear me now?” How often do we feel as if we are ignored, misunderstood or altogether treated like a dropped call! What do we do when we feel that way? I know what I do. I move to another network. I move to one that will listen to me.

Let’s now reverse the question. As a product or service provider, ow well do we listen? Are we so busy with what we wish to accomplish that we are forget our goal in business, which is to meet client or customer requirements. I recently heard an individual involved in a performance improvement program discussing the need for Voice of the Customer, VOC, as he explained his management scorecard and projects. When asked if he’d reviewed either with a major customer, he replied that they’d given him a scorecard but he’d neither used it or presented his because his system was still immature. I took a double-take. He’d been handed the VOC he sought but failed to realize it as such as he was focused on his ability to execute. Tell me

– would a hunter increase the amount of venison he had for the winter if he could shoot straight but couldn’t find his quarry? I think he’d have a cold, hungry winter. Good VOC helps your business see the target.

Download a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements a short training module that discusses Critical to Customer Requirements

If you want to judge the ability to execute, we have lots of qualitative observations and quantitative measures with which to make an assessment. Do you have the same so as to assess your ability to listen? Do you know whether or not you are really listening to the voice of the customer? We feel that just as there is a maturity model for the ability to execute improvement, there is a maturity model for the ability to listen. If you’d like to hear more and discuss how you listen to your customer, please contact me. We always like to listen to you.

 

VOC and Lean Value Stream Mapping – A Simple, but Powerful Equation

March 2nd, 2011 Comments off

It sounds so simple. Lean eliminates waste defined as any activity that does not provide value to the customer. Eliminate the waste and you will bring products and services to customers better, faster and at a lower price. Finally, combine it with Six Sigma to reduce variation and defects, and you make breakthrough results.

We all start by understanding that value is defined solely by what the customer actually desires and for which they are willing to pay and that value enabling activities, while not adding direct value, are necessary. We all then look for the true non-value added activities that add waste in the form of unnecessary time, effort or cost. We learn to seek and eliminate those non-value added activities. That is the essence of a lean project.

So what is the lynchpin that makes this elegant equation work? Identify what your customer considers of value and how you deliver it. Once you have that line of site, if you maintain efforts to continually improve, you’ll get there. But without that clarity, your improvement efforts are a march to nowhere.

It is important when developing that line of sight to define value from the perspective of the customer, the Voice of the Customer (VOC). Understand clearly and exactly what product or service the customer desires, when it is to be

delivered, and at what price.

Download a VOC training module dealing with Critical to Customer Requirements, a key element of VOC

Download a training module dealing with Critical to Customer Requirements, a key element of VOC

To understand how your company actually delivers what the customer considers of value, leverage lean tools to precisely map the set and sequence of all specific actions done to bring the product or service from conception to final delivery. This provides a visual display of exactly how a particular process is carried out. Mapping this “value stream” enables you to identify value-adding and non-value adding activities from the customer’s perspective thus setting the stage for improvement.

Along with providing a sense of alignment between your goal of delivering value and your opportunity for improvement, this exercise also carries the message of how problems and solutions are cross-functional in nature. If process owners participate in this process with an open mind, they will learn the futility of looking for a solution from someone else independent of their efforts. Thus, not only does value stream mapping provide alignment from the customer to performance improvement opportunities, but it continues through to an individual’s actions.

Yes it can be a simple equation – understand what your customer values (VOC), eliminate waste (Lean) and be more competitive. But to do that, make sure you get the front end right using VOC and value stream mapping to get the target and alignment to individual actions.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss ….

Process and Change in Service Industries – The Survivor Challenge

February 1st, 2011 Comments off

Outwit…Outplay…Outlast.  Wow, that says it all doesn’t it?  Reality TV is a kick. Throw a bunch of strangers onto an island and watch them dwindle down based on how well they can play to the desires of a group in a winner-take-all battle. Lots to learn from watching. How well and quickly can a player understand the group’s requirements? How well can they meet those requirements in a highly competitive situation? Each elimination changes the group’s dymanics so the requirements, competition and strategy all have to be adapted continuously and quickly. One slip up and you could be out. How does this relate to Service Industries?

Download our critical to customer requirements module

our critical to customer requirements VOC module

In previous articles, I’ve discussed how business and consumer patterns have gone through massive changes and how understanding the Voice of the Customer is the key to adapting to the new environment. The nascent recovery is providing an opportunity to survive and, for some businesses, to flourish. But the competition is still in the elimination phase and I believe that is very much the case for service businesses of nearly every nature.

It’s important to understand why things are different in services so as not to be lulled by more macroeconomic headlines. Before the crises, manufacturing went through years of driving productivity while services accelerated right up to the edge. The Federal Reserve’s strategy of depreciating the dollar and growing demand in emerging markets has helped the global competitive position and demand for manufacturing products while services are more tied to the domestic economy. Finally, we have a political environment that ramped regulation or restructured entire service industries such as banking and health care. And if that weren’t enough, services are going to be the start-ups of all the unemployed as they require less capital and can use the internet to gather and distribute information, the very essence of a services business, at a very low cost.

Change is not over in service businesses. Like Survivor, listening and adapting quickly to an ever changing customer is still the only protection from elimination. Several key points we consider imperative to driving alignment are:

  1. However you capture VOC, keep improving it. We propose a five level maturity model that goes from what you need to simply stay alive to what you need to be innovative.
  2. Balance how you respond to VOC with how you respond to other stakeholder demands. We have a checklist of behaviors that will give you the ammunition to point to an imbalance.
  3. Segment your VOC. Meeting every item your customer sets out for you will not yield a purchase while some will yield tremendous results. We offer a framework for segmentation.
  4. Convert what you hear to something you can measure. To make science out of art we use industry case studies and benchmarking as the best guide.
  5. Align process metrics to the chosen customer measures in #4 above. Again, use industry benchmarking and cases to apply knowledge and experience and avoid the alchemy.

Now you are ready to drive change. But there is one more thing. Let’s return to the scenario painted at the start of this article…it’s not enough to just do this. You must do it fast. We are rebounding but demand for services isn’t returning to 2006 levels…at least not until around 2016…and competition is increasing. During that time, businesses will fail, be acquired or be rationalized. But there will also be winners and, like Survivor, they will win big. We urge you to recognize what is coming and act.  Outwit…Outplay…Outlast.

If any of the pieces above would help you, let me know our thoughts.

Join Us on Twitter for Thoughts and Announcements

September 2nd, 2010 Comments off

First, we want to thank all of you that have subscribed to our blog. We have over 1,000 subscribers and the list grows every day, week and month. We hope we are providing you relevant information. If there is anything you’d like us to bring to you, let us know. If we don’t have the content, we’ll recruit guest bloggers that do.
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On another note, we began “tweeting” about a month ago and just were rated in the top half of Twitter profiles by Hubspots ranking tool. We have grown a nice group of friends who we follow and that follow us by regularly tweeting on key subjects as well as making announcments about our complimentary content offerings. We invite you to join us on twitter at @sixsigmaqualtec.

Thanks for your support and have a great Labor Day weekend. See you on the other side.


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