Lean Six Sigma: ‘Voice of the Customer’

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Lean Six Sigma: ‘Voice of the Customer’

Times are changed and it’s certainly considered a buyers market out there at the moment. While this is true of those buying houses or second-hand cars, it’s also true across all goods and services. Early 2009 saw the mass exodus to customers migrate to the north to purchase goods. A new price sensitive customer has appeared, one who had not been seen during the Celtic Tiger years.

So what does this mean? Customer needs change over time. What was relevant last year may not be what customers now want. What were customer needs for mobile phones ten years ago? What are those needs today? Organizations must continuously listen to the ‘Voice of the Customer’ and have a willingness to change in order to deliver those customer needs.

With Six Sigma it all starts with the Customer – Who are those customers and what do they want? What’s really important to them and what’s the nice to have?

The Kano Model states that all customer needs can be classified as Dissatisfiers, Satisfiers and Delighters.

The Kano model can be used to identify where to focus Six Sigma projects in your organization. For example, customers may want to their insurance premium costs to be kept to a minimum (Dis-satisfier) yet don’t mind if their policy takes 10 days to issue (Delighter) but they still want to receive the standard policy (Satisfier). So a Green Belt or Black Belt could review the core processes which support the costs of issuing policies and reduce waste or re-work in order to reduce policy costs. This would meet the basic customer need and ensure they are not ‘Dissatisfied’. Issuing standard polices will ensure they are ‘Satisfied’. Finally, if you’ve achieved all this and still can issue policies by 7 working days then you would be going above their expectations and ‘delighting’ them.

With some organizations now advertising their Irish or UK based call centres for handling customer calls perhaps they’ve been listening to their ‘Voice of the Customer’? Perhaps they identified out-sourced call centres as a customer dissatisfier and made the decision to change their business to meet their customer needs.

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