Question marks on small multi-colored pieces of paper

Voice of the Customer: Have You Asked Enough Questions?

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To drive improvement through Lean Six Sigma and other continuous improvement projects, it is imperative for practitioners to determine first what is important to the customers who are affected by the process. Customers can take on a variety of different views. Listed below are examples of typical customers identified in a SIPOC diagram (suppliers, inputs, […]

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Knowing Who Your Customers Are

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When a company has multiple types of customers, a key factor in generating accurate voice-of-the-customer (VOC) data is the development of a unified VOC collection process. In my article, “Nice Doing Business With You” (iSixSigma Magazine, January/February 2011), I discussed various methods to ensure that all types of customer information is gathered from various departments […]

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Scenario Planning

Get the Bugs Out: VOC Analysis and Scenario Planning

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Through scenario planning, organizations can delight their customers by preparing for problems before they happen and testing solutions on employees first.

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Use Pair-wise Questioning to Collect More Useful VOC Data

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Imagine receiving the following message from your organization’s travel assistant: “You will really like your next business trip! I have booked you into a hotel right in the city center. It is a bit far from the factory and not really cheap, but after work you can do lots of things!” But what if you […]

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Asking the Right Questions Is the Key to Data Collection

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In the Measure phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) improvement methodology, data is collected and analyzed to provide a performance baseline for the process under study. Asking questions is one of the primary ways of collecting data. But as author Edward Hodnett noted, “If you don’t ask the right questions, […]

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Three Simple Questions: How to Focus Your VOC Research

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A lot of time can be saved in the planning stages of a survey research project by simply answering three short questions. By the time people from organizations have contacted me about a Six Sigma voice of the customer (VOC) study or research project, they have usually spent at least a fair amount of time […]

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Strategies for Surveying Employees

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Most mid to large companies or organizations can at one point or another, benefit from surveying their employees for the primary purpose of gauging morale. A survey may be needed for a number of reasons, including changes in employee behavior such as high absenteeism or a reduction in output; before or after major adjustments in […]

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biomarker

Variance Markers in Survey Design

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The idea of bio-marking, a technique used to follow individual molecules around in the laboratory, can also be applied to survey design. By creating one item, which captures the overall meaning or bottom line of a survey, you can examine its variance statistically as it interacts with other items and set the stage for leverage and resource allocation via multiple regression.

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Six Sigma Trends: Upgrade for Supply Chains and Solution Providers

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This is my second article from my series reflecting research on strategies and trends in deploying Six Sigma. Our research is performed not in an academic lab but with direct application in companies through advanced team-training concepts and relevant project coaching. Although subjects vary, the structure of my articles will remain similar starting with What […]

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Is Software Inspection Value Added?

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In manufacturing circles it is generally accepted that inspections are money wasted. But in the world of software that is definitely not the case. This brief case study uses scorecards to illustrate the value and payoff that can be realized by introducing software inspections. By comparing defect counts and defect fix efforts from two completed […]

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Y = f (x): Aligning Green/Black Belts To Business Needs

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With the deployment of Six Sigma many organizations ask themselves various questions: What is critical to my customers? What is critical to the bottom line? How do I get a handle on these processes and assure their performance? What should my newly trained Black Belts attack? Without the methodology to pursue the answers, the pressure […]

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Increasing Customer Interactions

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Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity for advancing your relationship and gaining key information. Your early interaction efforts set the stage for mature and productive relationships. Clear and efficient communication with your customers may serve you better than anything else in developing relationships. Once you have established mutual trust and respect, you will […]

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Is CRM the Six Sigma of the New Economy?

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The Internet has not only lowered the barrier of entry into markets, but in many cases also allows companies to offer products and services at much lower prices. Customers now have the choice and, more importantly, they are aware of their choices. As the economy moves more towards the e-conomy, customer expectations and the ability […]

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Understand and Quantify the Customer’s View

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Businesses provide an indivisible combination of products and services to their customers. The customers’ view of the value the company provides is based on the quality of the combined package of product and service. So how does the quality professional provide management with a tool to benchmark the operation’s performance and monitor the view the […]

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Next Steps

Defining CTQ Outputs: A Key Step in the Design Process

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After gathering voice of the customer data, the next step is to translate user demands into design quality. A quality function deployment (QFD), also known as the house of quality, can help define those critical-to-quality outputs (CTQs).

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Strengthening the Employee-customer Interaction

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The most perfectly designed and built process or system is only as good as the human being who uses it. That’s the idea behind Human Sigma, a new branch of Six Sigma that focuses on improving the quality of the employee-customer encounter, particularly within sales and service organizations. Human Sigma proponents, including John H. Fleming […]

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Net Promoter Score: A Number for Business to Grow By

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Organizations looking for a silver bullet customer metric look no further than the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Developed by Frederick Reichhold and his colleagues at Bain & Co., NPS provides an economical and concise metric for assessing how loyal a company’s customers are. Managing that measurement is the key to future growth. What Is NPS? […]

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Customer CTQs – Defining Defect, Unit and Opportunity

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In order for any process capability to accurately be calculated, one must properly define and quantify the process defect, unit and opportunity of a customer CTQ. This article defines the three terms, as well as provides examples.

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User Stories in Lean Six Sigma Software Development

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The term “user story” is emerging in the practice of Agile software development, but the notion is very applicable in all types of products and services. A user story is a simple, one-sentence description of what an actor (any person or entity with behavior that expects things of a particular system) would find valuable to […]

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VOC Loyalty Survey Can Aim Customer Retention Projects

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Retention is a behavior. Satisfaction is a feeling. Loyalty is a measure of the potential for retention. One health plan organization has used the analysis of a simple voice of the customer (VOC) survey to find the drivers and the relationship between loyalty and retention. While a health plan has many opportunities to improve operational […]

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VOC/Conjoint Analysis: Actionable Customer Segmenting

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Voice of the customer (VOC) is a central concept within the Six Sigma methodology. Process performance can only be measured if an organization is aware of the critical customer requirements. But customer preferences are often unbalanced (everything is important), vague and unstable. With the help of conjoint analysis, it is possible to derive individual customer […]

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User Stories and Measures for Competitive Analysis

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Finding a Framework for Benchmarking and Reverse Engineering Product development is often forward looking – trying to discover and deliver value for a product or service in our own company. There are times, however, when it is worth learning what the competition has been up to. Some of the same tools that support a company’s […]

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Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 2

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Many organizations use surveys to gather information and data in order to learn more about their customers. To prepare a successful survey, practitioners should follow nine basic steps. Part One of this series discussed the first three steps: establishing a goal, determining the sample and choosing the methodology. The fourth, fifth and sixth steps, which […]

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Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 3

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To generate a valuable customer survey, practitioners should follow nine steps. Part One of this series discussed the first three steps: establishing a goal, determining the sample and choosing the methodology. Part Two covered the fourth, fifth and sixth steps, which related to what types of questions to ask and how they should be asked. […]

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