What is Critical To Quality?

Critical to quality refers to the things necessary for a company to have in place in order to meet the needs of the customer. It is the attribute of a process or service that has a direct impact on its real or perceived quality.

The Benefits of Critical To Quality

The benefits of focusing on critical to quality (CTQ) elements include the highlighting of weak spots in an organization where performance can be improved. It also helps in root cause analysis and quality improvement.

How to Create a Critical To Quality Tree

A CTQ tree is comprised of three main components. These are Needs, Drivers, and Requirements.

  • Needs highlight the requirements of the customer and are the origin point of the CTQ tree.
  • Drivers are the parameters on which the quality of a product or service is judged.
  • Requirements are performance standards that are measurable and have to be met by drivers in order to achieve customer satisfaction.

    To create your CTQ tree, define the need and write it in a box that you put on the far left, at the mid-point vertically on a page. Working left to right, general to specific, you will then list your drivers in their own boxes with arrows coming from the need. Finally, from each of the driver boxes, you will connect with arrows to boxes that contain the various requirements.

    What is Critical To Customer?

    Critical to customer simply means the things that are the expectations and needs of your customer. These things are defined by the customer, specifically, and not your organization.

    The Benefits of Critical To Customer

    Analyzing CTC gives your business the opportunity to really connect with your customer and understand what is truly important to them. By providing products/services that exactly meet the requirements of customers, there is less rework, fewer returns, and more customer loyalty.

    How to Create a Critical To Customer Tree

    A critical to customer tree is made in much the same way as a CTQ tree. The main difference is that the need section will be using the VOC, the voice of the customer.

    Critical To Quality vs Critical To Customer: What’s the Difference?

    Ideally, each informs the other. CTQ is in line with what the company needs to deliver a quality product, while CTC is in line with what the customer needs. If a company listens to its customers, then an item that is critical to customer can be analyzed against what is critical to quality for the company, and adjustments can be made in processes to keep the customer satisfied.

    Critical To Quality vs Critical To Customer: Who would use A and/or B?

    Critical to quality can be seen as coming from the voice of the organization, while critical to customer can be seen as coming from the voice of the consumer. A business will want to be very aware of both in order to have a successful organization.

    Choosing Between Critical To Quality and Critical To Customer: Real World Scenarios

    A new pizza shop prides itself on providing made-to-order personal pizzas for its customers. The shop prides itself on being able to make high-quality and fresh-from-the-oven pizzas, so they do not have slices ready to go, sitting all day under heat lamps on display. As word of mouth gets around about the quality of the pizza, more customers begin to frequent the shop, and the ten minutes it generally takes to make the pizzas from scratch does not sit well with customers that come on their lunch break. The lunch customers would prefer to get their meal right away and not be pressed for time to get back to work.

    The pizza shop wrestles with this problem as they realize that getting pizza fast has become a CTC element for many of their customers. The shop sees serving fresh from the oven made-to-order pizza as a CTQ element for them. Looking at their processes, they decide that the best way to make sure the needs of both sides are met is to get a new pizza oven that is able to bake a pizza in under two minutes.


    Critical to quality (CTQ) and critical to customer (CTC) are often thought of as being synonymous. While one can definitely affect the other, one is from the voice of the organization or business and the other is reflective of the voice of the customer.

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