The “Voice of the Customer” is a process used to capture the requirements or feedback from the customer (internal or external) to provide them with a service or product that meets their articulated needs1.
This assumes that the customer know what they want and need. Of course, this is not always true, so this common tool used in Process Improvement has limitations.
This process is all about responsiveness and constantly innovating to capture the changing requirements of the customers over time.
The “Voice of the Customer” is the term used to describe the stated and unstated needs or requirements of the customer. The “Voice of the Customer” can be captured in a variety of ways: Direct discussion or interviews, surveys, focus groups, customer specifications, observation, warranty data, field reports, complaint logs, etc.
This data is used to identify the quality attributes needed for a supplied component or material to incorporate in the process or product. The VOC is critical for an organization to:
- Decide what products and services to offer
- Identify critical features and specifications for those products and services
- Decide where to focus improvement efforts
- Obtain a baseline measure of customer satisfaction against which improvement will be measured
- Identify key drivers of customer satisfaction
The following is a list of typical outputs of the VOC process:
- A list of customers and customer segments
- Identification of relevant reactive and proactive sources of data
- Verbal or numerical data that identify customer needs
- Defined Critical-To-Quality requirements (CTQs)
- Specifications for each CTQ requirement
- References: Birkinshaw, Julian, John Bessant, and Rick Delbridge. “Finding, Forming and Performing: Creating Networks for Discontinuous Innovation.” California Management Review, Spring 2007, pp. 67-84.
Harrington, Richard J., and Anthony K. Tjan. “Transforming Strategy One Customer At a Time.” Harvard Business Review, March 2008, pp. 62-72.
Nambisan, Satish, and Priya Nambisan. “How to Profit From a Better Virtual Customer Environment.” MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2008, pp. 53-61.
Seybold, Patricia. Outside Innovation: How Your Customers Will Co-Design Your Company’s Future. Collins, 2006.
Ulwick, Anthony. “Turn Customer Input into Innovation.” Harvard Business Review, January 2002, pp. 91-97.
Ulwick, Anthony. What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and Services. McGraw-Hill, 2005.
Zaltman, Gerald. How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market. Harvard Business School Press, 2003. ↩