Desktop   |  Next Public Course  |  Contact
Home  > Resources > Free Newsletter ... Subscribe

Translating Voice of Customer into True Customer Needs

Understanding customers in a diverse global marketplace is a challenge to today's enterprises. Common market research tools including customer visits, focus groups, customer satisfaction surveys, conjoint analyses, interviews, and others tend to focus on today's product features and not the benefits they bring to customers today or what benefits the customer might seek in the future.

While these conventional methods provide valuable insight for addressing complaints and upgrading products, new product development may require additional insight into consumer/user behavior..

QFD Toolset for Voice of Customer (VOC)

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) is a method to acquire and analyze the voice of the customer and then transform it into product requirements and quality assurance measures throughout the design, build, test, commercialization, and even product retirement process.

In recent years, QFD has expanded its toolset further upstream to assure the 'quality of customer requirements' that are used as the input to the QFD process. For many organizations that have strong methods for solving problems and assuring manufacturing/service delivery quality (such as six sigma, design for six sigma, lean six sigma, etc.), the focus today is not only on "how" to solve a problem, but "what" problem do I start on first, especially with schedule, resource, and budget constraints.

QFD's expanded toolset addresses the problem of what to do first and best, while still preserving its flowdown to CTQs, build and process quality parameters, and service delivery/support. The process of acquiring voice of customer (VOC) and translating it into true customer needs that are product and solution independent is an American innovation in Modern QFD. This modern VOC toolset is taught in the QFD Green Belt® Course, using examples from manufacturing, service, software, healthcare, and other industries.

Benefits of Modern VOC Process & Tools

How QFD defines customer needs, how to identify whether a VOC statement is a 'need' or not, and if not, how to interpret and verify what customers actually need... These are an important focus of Modern QFD training.

The benefit of this to product developers is:

Let us use a simple example of the latter: If a customer walks into a café, asking for a "hot cup of coffee," is this a customer need or a solution?

Since the customer is telling the barista what product they should make, this VOC describes a 'solution' with features like "hot," "cup," and "coffee." One of the QFD tools, the Customer Voice Table, enables developers to parse the VOC features and ask the customer one-by-one "why do you want this?" or "what benefit do you expect if you have this feature?"

This technique will translate features like "hot" into benefits such as "I am cold and I want to feel warm." This is important to know, because it is possible that if the coffee is too hot and impossible to drink immediately, the customer will remain cold. It also allows developers to think about other body-warming technologies besides temperature such as alcohol, spices, etc.

The modern toolset is also useful for identifying, prioritizing and analyzing risks that have not materialized yet such as technology security risks, public health risks, etc. For example, a future modification of an IT product is no longer limited to the actions taken by the customer for whom the product was intended. Developers today must consider the behavior of unknown (future) abusers that pose security risks. We discussed this in "Can QFD be used to predict future technology risks?" and "QFD reliability and safety deployment".

The toolset is agile, easy and flexible to use, and yet provides more power and precision to your project. To learn the details and techniques of the modern toolset for your project, we recommend the QFD Green Belt® and QFD Black Belt® Courses. We provide the modern templates and you can begin practicing the tools on your actual work project in the classroom.

Top   |   Training   |   Resources   

© QFD Institute / Glenn Mazur  


Public Courses