Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Market
Samer Hamade Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Market March 27, 2013 I currently work for an ISO certified company where customer-driven quality and continuous improvement are extremely important - Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Market introduction. It all starts with the company’s quality policy which emphasizes the commitment to provide highest quality technical services and products consistent with the schedule and cost commitment made to the customers.
This is achieved through a system of processes that are continually improved through partnerships with customers and suppliers. It is only through understanding the needs of the customer, and ensuring that those needs are met, that a company can achieve a high level of quality. The customer has complete control over the start and the end of every business relationship and this fact makes it a challenge to any company.
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Therefore, the company must be pro-active and gather as much information as possible about the needs of the customer. In our company we are committed to customer-driven quality; we have pro-active approaches put in place in which we gather data about our customers to learn their needs and preferences and then providing services and products that satisfy the customer. Voice of the customer (VOC) is used to identify the key drivers of customer satisfaction. It represents the wants, opinions, needs, and desires of a customer.
Listening to the VOC properly focuses the company’s improvement projects, provides data to help develop appropriate measurements, helps the team decide what products and services to offer, identifies critical features for those products and services, known as critical to quality characteristics, or CTQs, provides a baseline measure of customer satisfaction against which to measure improvement, and identifies the key drivers of customer satisfaction. In order to capture the VOC, a company must follow the following steps:
First, they need to identify the customers and what needs to be known about their needs. The word customer is sometimes misinterpreted as only the final customer. Therefore in order to know your customers, one must understand the difference between internal and external customers and ensure that all their needs are met. Any process in a company that produces an output has a customer and therefore, we must understand the needs of that customer because essentially it is them who define what a defect is.
Bear in mind that the final customer, or the end user, might sometimes be far removed from a particular task but their needs are still important and must be taken into consideration and understand how they align with the needs of the direct customer. Second, after identifying the customers and understanding their needs, we must collect and analyze reactive system data and then fill gaps with proactive approaches. There are two types of data collection systems: reactive and proactive systems.
Reactive systems involve information that is obtained without action such as complaints, returns, credits, etc.. It is essentially a result of a negative customer feedback which triggers an action on our end. Proactive systems involve taking action to gather information such as surveys, research, interviews, etc.. These are not customer initiated but instead initiated by the company. The goal is to gather as much information about the customer’s needs and then use this data to determine which areas need improvement, which leads us to the third step in this process.
After we gather as much reactive and proactive data about the customer, we need to analyze this data to generate a key list of customer needs and identify areas in which these needs are not met. In this analysis phase, the goal is to find the root cause of the customer dissatisfaction and improve upon it. During the analysis, one might find that there are several areas in which the customer needs are not met; however, it is important to understand that it is extremely difficult to attack all problems at once. It is time consuming and inefficient.
Therefore, it is important to identify which of these areas are critical to quality and make it the priority of the improvement process. In the earlier part of this paper, I emphasized the importance of the VOC and how understanding customer needs help a company get to a higher level of quality. However, it is also very important to listen to the voice of the market. In order for any company to be successful it must maintain a competitive edge and this cannot be established without understanding the competition.
It is important to understand the market and keep up with the advancement in product development as well as customer satisfaction in order to always stay ahead. If a company does not know what others are doing or how they are doing it they will never get better. In a dynamic market customer needs are always changing and it is important to constantly monitor this change and make any necessary adjustments to adjust to those changes. In our company we listen to the voice of the market. We always take pro-active approaches to learn about the customer needs as well as competitors.
We always look for innovative ideas in the market and try to utilize those ideas to create products that meet the market’s needs and therefore attract many customers. It is crucial, especially in defense industry, where the advancement of technology is very rapid, to understand the needs of the market and where the future is heading in order to strategically plan ahead and be the leaders in providing new products and innovating new ideas rather than following what other companies are doing and this is what makes us leaders and not followers.