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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What’s Inside the January/February 2011 Issue

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In its January/February issue, iSixSigma Magazine focuses on “Enhancing the Customer Experience.” What better way to explore that theme than through a look at retail giant Best Buy? In this profile, find out how the company is using Lean Six Sigma to satisfy both internal and external customers. The issue also offers how-to advice for […]

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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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The Customer Talks Back: Musings on Call Center Efficiency

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Running a call center is like handling a job interview: First impressions are critical. Good intentions do not make up for tardiness, ill-fitting clothing, dirty shoes, the inability to reasonably pronounce the interviewer’s name or ignorance about what the company does. The primary purpose of a call center is to increase the profitability of the […]

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Five Myths That Can Undermine Customer Loyalty

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Market share depends upon an organization’s capacity not only to acquire new customers, but also to keep them. It makes no sense to invest resources to capture new customers only to lose them to competitors. This is where customer management comes in – a strategy focused on creating loyal customers by providing superior value. Unfortunately, […]

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The Influence of Empowering Healthcare Workers

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“What kind of care would I want for a loved one who is fighting cancer?” This is the question that Julia, an outpatient clinic nurse at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), asked herself as she observed the following process: Mrs. Smith, a patient, arrives early to the clinic to meet with her oncologist, Dr. […]

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Using Six Sigma in Marketing Requires Fundamental Changes

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Six Sigma promises a path for a firm’s long-term success. However, a company cannot really have this Six Sigma journey without the road running through the marketing department. It is through the deployment into marketing that Six Sigma evolves into a strategic process. The synergy between “good marketing” and “good Six Sigma” creates a holistic […]

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10 Marketing Myths and Service Slips

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As everyone knows, myths have a way of becoming more than they are. The same is true for marketing and service. As the following list of conventional wisdom, beliefs and marketing clichés illustrates, while many myths may have a solid empirical basis, it is possible to carry them too far – and other common beliefs […]

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A Day in Photos at Virginia Mason Medical Center

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For patients of Virginia Mason Medical Center, trips to the hospital can actually be pleasant – or at least free of discomfort and waste. The center is a private, not-for-profit organization offering integrated health services, including a 336-bed hospital in Seattle and a network of primary and specialty care clinics throughout the Puget Sound region. […]

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Queuing Theory and Practice: A Source of Competitive Advantage

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Everyone has experienced waiting in line, whether at a fast-food restaurant, on the phone for technical help, at the doctor’s office or in the drive-through lane of a bank. Sometimes, it is a pleasant experience, but many times it can be extremely frustrating for both the customer and the store manager. Given the intensity of […]

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To Identify CTQs, Listen To The Voice of the Market

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Successful quality initiatives rely on understanding what quality actually means. The meaning of quality resides in the minds of those who judge it and use it to make their purchase decisions – in other words, the market. Divorced from the market, value or quality has no real meaning. Uninformed definitions of value or quality become […]

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Done in One: The Importance of First-call Resolution

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For most contact centers, nearly one-third of inbound calls are repeat callers who weren’t satisfied the first time they called. More often than not, the antiquated switches that contact centers use don’t do a great job of reporting on the true first-call resolution (FCR) rate in a given center, so the problem may be even […]

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Holding Black Belts Accountable for Positive Project Results

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As a Black Belt, I know it is easy to fall into the trap of working only on projects that cut costs. I also know that this type of “accounting” is a slippery slope that can cloud essential business goals by creating unfounded visions of savings. Don’t get me wrong – cutting expenses is important. […]

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Six Sigma’s Battle Over Marketing

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There is a battle being waged on the fringe of the Six Sigma community. The battle is over how to apply Six Sigma to one of the last frontiers of business – marketing. There are two sides to the argument: those who favor a direct application, and those who feel the method should be modified. […]

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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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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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To Save Cost, Set Product Warranties Based on Quality

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Imagine you are the quality manager for a consumer electronics manufacturer. At the previous staff meeting, the CEO asked the management team for ideas that could help the company become more competitive and increase profits. It is now one month later. During the staff meeting, members of the marketing department present some research that shows […]

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Implementing a Customer Satisfaction Metric

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Organizations evaluate themselves by measuring customer satisfaction with their products or services. As organizations evolve, the measurement of customer satisfaction across the entire organization becomes imperative. The first step is for an organization to implement a metric for tracking customer satisfaction. To develop a metric, an organization should explore these questions: Who are its customers? […]

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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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The Kano Analysis: Customer Needs Are Ever Changing

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I will be the first to admit that I still have a few cases of 8-track tapes. For those too young to know what 8-track tapes are, please ask your parents. As a customer who purchased a lot of music, my needs were simple. I wanted clearer sound and something smaller to store. The music […]

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Scorecard Can Balance Different Measures of Success

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Lean Six Sigma can be overwhelming to an organization if implemented without regard for an organization’s change management history, culture and readiness. That said, the starting point for Lean Six Sigma – as well as any organized approach to effecting change that both enhances customer experience and impacts profitability – is actually having a strategy that includes […]

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Voice of the Business, Customer, Process and Employee

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Business could not have been better. Customers were reacting positively to the company’s new and enhanced service portfolio, the company entered the market without much competition and customer satisfaction was at an all-time high. Profitability continued to rise, and the company’s efficiency rate was impressive. But then things changed. New account numbers abruptly fell. Some […]

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The Futility of Call Center Coaching

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One-agent-at-a-time coaching is the go-to method in call centers for trying to improve center-wide output measures. But it is less valuable than many believe. Through the use of mathematical modeling and simulation, it is possible to see that coaching, even in moderate turnover environments, does not offer a return on investment (ROI). More-effective improvement strategies […]

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Customer Winback Concept Begs for Use of Six Sigma

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“Customer winback” is becoming a common marketing practice in many businesses. The process is aimed at winning back disgruntled customers and then retaining them. Businesses restore the relationship with old customers through a combination of diligent investigations and follow-up, promotion and targeted improvements specifically addressing customer concerns. Companies willing to make the commitment to customer […]

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