iSixSigma

VOC/Customer Focus

Overview of Effective Survey Design

The survey is one of the most important data collection tools in the armament of a Six Sigma practitioner. There is no lack of research literature on the principles and designs of effective surveys. While the surveys conducted by academics and certain research institutes often reflect impeccable design, there are innumerable cases in which the…

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How to Avoid The Evils Within Customer Satisfaction Surveys

When the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for the second time in 1999, companies across many industries began trying to achieve the same level of outstanding customer satisfaction. This was a good thing, of course, as CEOs and executives began incorporating customer satisfaction into their company goals while also communicating…

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VOC Advances: New Paths to Understanding Customers

A Series of Articles on VOC Advances This article is one of a series on advances in obtaining and applying voice of the customer (VOC) information. The other articles in the series are VOC Advances: Complementary Innovation for Growth and VOC Advances: Helping Make Better Design Decisions. The series was written by Anthony E. Curtis…

VOC: Comparing Reactive Data and Proactive Data

Collecting data – be it voice of the customer or otherwise – requires a plan. Details of the plan should include what data to collect, how to get the information, where the information will come from and so on. Before any of these details are defined, however, the first step is to identify what a…

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Voice of the Customer: Have You Asked Enough Questions?

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,…

Knowing Who Your Customers Are

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…

Getting the Bugs Out: VOC Analysis and Scenario Planning

Despite their best efforts to meet the expectations of their customers, companies can still struggle to retain their market share. One reason, as illustrated by the Kano model, is that product or service qualities that were once simply attractive can turn into must-be qualities. If companies do not keep up with new expectations, the result…

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Asking the Right Questions Is the Key to Data Collection

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

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…

Strategies for Surveying Employees

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…

Variance Markers in Survey Design

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, we can examine its variance statistically as it interacts with other items and set the stage for leverage…

Is Software Inspection Value Added?

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

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…

Increasing Customer Interactions

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…

Is CRM the Six Sigma of the New Economy?

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…

Understand and Quantify the Customer’s View

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…

Strengthening the Employee-customer Interaction

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

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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Defining CTQ Outputs: A Key Step in the Design Process

After starting a project and gathering the voice of the customer (VOC), it is time to define the critical-to-quality outputs (CTQs). CTQs are the key measurable characteristics of a product or process whose performance standards or specification limits must be met in order to satisfy the customer. These outputs represent the product or service characteristics…

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User Stories in Lean Six Sigma Software Development

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…

VOC Loyalty Survey Can Aim Customer Retention Projects

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…

VOC/Conjoint Analysis: Actionable Customer Segmenting

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…

User Stories and Measures for Competitive Analysis

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…

Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 2

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…

Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 3

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….

Nine Steps to Create a Great Customer Survey: Part 1

Many organizations use surveys to gather information and data in order to learn more about their customers. While it is important to ensure that surveys are targeted to the right audience, confidence in the development and implementation of a survey is even more vital. To prepare a successful survey, practitioners should follow nine basic steps;…

Quick, Quality Decision-Making Using Six Sigma Tools

A significant part of business success can come from the speed and quality of decision-making. Such good decision-making leads to performance improvements by reducing rework and driving benefits to the bottom line faster. Six Sigma, especially Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), has tools that improve the speed and quality of decisions. A morphological matrix will…

Enhanced VOC Data Collection Can Jump Start Projects

An enhanced voice of the customer (VOC) data collection process can improve Lean Six Sigma project execution and make the project leader’s job easier. During many Black Belt training sessions, the instructor teaches the class that it needs to develop statements on critical-to-quality elements (CTQs) that summarized the customer requirements in specific and measurable terms….

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VOC Advances: Helping Make Better Design Decisions

Many companies launch product or service design efforts based on whatever knowledge they already have about customer needs from questionnaires, focus groups, the opinions of marketing staff and senior engineers…and sometimes the CEO. Often this information is more opinion than data. Teams read through this existing customer information, whether it is relevant to the current…

Achieving Customer Delight Via VOC and Data Analysis

In an inbound contact center environment, delivery of customer service and the end-customer satisfaction index cannot be always accurately determined by service level metrics. A customer service center may be performing at consistent service levels, but the end-customer retention rate and the overall customer satisfaction index may be relatively low. Direct measurement of customers’ perceptions…

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The Customer, Trust, Quality and the Bottom Line

The link between individual Six Sigma projects and the ultimate customer is sometimes difficult because of the separation between the two, and sometimes because of the vagueness of statements at the strategic level. It was interesting and relevant to see the results earlier this year from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey of nearly…

Improving Help Desk Functions by Using Lean Six Sigma

Help desks often face a barrage of complaints when voice of the customer (VOC) data is collected. These typically include: “I had to describe the problem to more than one person before it was solved.” “I had to describe the problem to more than one person, and each time I was asked to do the…

Tips and Technology for Six Sigma in Mobile Workforces

Six Sigma has been adopted by some of the world’s leading companies as a mechanism to improve bottom line results and delight customers. But though the companies have made spectacular gains in some areas – millions of dollars in increased revenue or reduced costs – success has not been uniform. Deploying Six Sigma in areas of…

VOC Advances: Complementary Innovation for Growth

A Series of Articles on VOC Advances This article is one of a series on advances in obtaining and applying voice of the customer (VOC) information. The other articles in the series are VOC Advances: New Paths to Understanding Customers and VOC Advances: Helping Make Better Design Decisions. The series was written by Anthony E….

Which Customers Should a Six Sigma Company Listen to?

Read any Six Sigma article, attend any Six Sigma conference or talk to any Black Belt and the message is clear – the voice of the customer is a core value of Six Sigma. When Six Sigma is applied with a strategic perspective, the voice of the customer is indeed the necessary starting point. Six Sigma…

Tips for Getting the Most from Six Sigma Surveys

Surveys surround us. The questions come via the mail, face to face in shopping malls, on the telephone, and increasingly over the Internet – a multitude of surveys, but many of them fail to achieve their goals. The fault often lies with those who design and administer the surveys with good intentions, but without the…

Six Sigma for Sales: Truth About the Customers’ Needs

“The more I learn about customer satisfaction, the less I know,” the CEO of a Fortune 500 company recently lamented. Many CEOs can empathize – for even the most customer-centered companies fall short on truly understanding their customers’ wants and needs and often don’t realize it until it’s too late. How does this happen? Many CEOs…

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