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QFD for Service and Information Economy

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As we move increasingly to a service and information economy from a manufacturing economy, the opportunities to apply QFD to service and business processes are expanding. Companies who understand their customers will be in a strong position in this new economy.

What should we take into account when applying QFD in a service setting or transactional processes? These processes are complex because of inherent human factors such as expectation and perception based on cultural and personal experiences, emotional interactions by both the customer and service provider, and the intangible nature of service products. This requires changes in our approach.

“We must be aware of these differences,” says Glenn Mazur, executive director of the QFD Institute and Modern QFD expert for service applications:

  1. Services deploy to human tasks and information, not components.
  2. Services cannot be stored as inventory because they are delivered at the moment of transaction, most often by people. Human activities have more variation than mechanical processes, and are more difficult to control.
  3. Services can be changed quickly if information from consumers regarding satisfaction and dissatisfaction is communicated. The service provider can often be both the source of the dissatisfaction as well as the channel of communication, so management must set up systems that takes this into account.
  4. Bad experiences with products can be overcome by good experiences with support services; bad experiences with support service could render an otherwise good product unsatisfactory.
  5. Today, services can be outsourced for 24/7 response time, including technical support, reservations systems, medical transcription and test interpretation, data processing, etc.

QFD can enhance all the above situations, including selection of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partners, both domestic and foreign. The following cases illustrate recent applications of QFD to service activities:

Other service cases include using QFD to identify new business opportunities in healthcare industry, to identify and resolve defects in chemical processes, and more. Numerous applications of QFD to service and business process situations are possible.

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