Gathering Voice of the Customer and Tools to use?

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    Hi experts,

    I am a newbie and need some help:
    I have a cross functional team and my goal is to obtain Voice of the customer from multiple cross functional departments. Are there any tools used to gather VOC other than just interview questions?

    Once feedback is obtained what is a good next step? I do not just want to get answers but do something with those answers. Would a House of Quality or QFD be a good tool? Anyone have any examples they can send me?

    Lastly – the ultimate goal is to see how can quality drive sales and marketing?

    Today not a strong case for quality in sales and marketing

    How should I approach this? DMAIC? VOC?

    Please email
    [email protected]



    First, do some research on Six Sigma for Growth. It’s the branch of SS that deals specifically with marketing and growing the business. I assume that your business process is not one that normally gets detailed specifications from your ultimate customers or you wouldn’t be asking this question. I recommend that your people who deal directly with customers, internal or external, ask open-ended questions such as, “is there anything we could do better?”. Most standard VOC techniques have problems.

    Surveys are likely to provide misleading data unless they’re professionally designed and conducted. That’s expensive. Even if a survey is well done, it imposes on your customers, they’re likely to not respond, and the questions may imply potential problems that they hadn’t been aware of.

    Focus groups also must be professionally designed and managed, i.e. expensive, and even so they’re unlikely to include a representative sample.

    Feedback cards are popular since they’re cheap and easy. But the check boxes, as with surveys, are likely to imply that you have bigger problems than you really do. Few customers fill them out and return them. Even fewer comment on the open ended questions. And those who do are likely to be chronic complainers or jokers.

    The good news is that you’re dealing with internal customers. That can be a trap since all of you really want to make your external customers happy so making each other happy may distract you from your business goals. But since you all have a common interest, leverage that. Ask open ended questions such as, “What can we do better to help you better serve our customers?”



    So, Voice of the Customer (VoC) is often gathered (one would hope) in the Define phase of a DMAIC process. Before you go out and do that, however, you need to define what process you are working on — for that, a basic SIPOC diagram is good. Once you’ve defined the process and the associated customers, then (and it sound like this) if your customers are internal, it’s easiest to just go talk to the customers. You’re trying to figure out the Critical Customer Requirements (CCR’s) — what is most important to the customer in a quantifiable, measurable form. Ask (1) what is most important to the customer; (2) why that aspect is important (drill down to specifics), and (3) how well is the business / process doing at that aspect. That should give you a start.

    You can go to interviews, focus groups, and surveys as well – but if you’re lucky, you might have your customer on your team and they will tell you all you need to know.



    You might want to peruse Robin Lawton’s book [i]Creating a Customer-Centered Culture[i]/. It’s available from Quality Press, and also via Amazon. It has some pretty good approaches.

    As for “selling” improvement to sales, consider checking out Fox’s book Dollarization Discipline.

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