VOC – Customer Data

Collecting Customer Data (IV-46)

Collecting data to gain “the voice of the customer” is a multi–level task.  Business, operations, and process levels of business are data sources.  When collecting data from customers, it helps to consider the levels where these customers impact the business.

Business Level

Customers at this level are primarily shareholders and top management employees.  The data of interest is primarily financial data such as stock price, market share, revenues, earnings, return–on–investment (ROI), return–on–net assets (RONA), etc.  Typically analysis stools are financial.  Typical measure intervals maybe quarterly or annually.


Operations Level

Customer service at this level are primarily those who purchase the product (external) and those who manage production operations (internal).  Data of interest measures overall process performance with the focus on customer satisfaction (external measures of operational ineffectiveness), and internal operations efficiency (internal measures such as rolled through put yield, Sigma levels, WIP inventory, etc.).  Typical analysis stools come from six sigma methods and lean manufacturing, industrial engineering, and various forms of operations analysis.  Typical measurement intervals may be daily or weekly.


Process Level

Customer service at this level of primarily internal, including employees and the “next process” in the operation.  External customers include suppliers for detailed material specification questions.  Data of interests primarily involves key process variables.  Typical analysis stools or statistical methods for process control, capability, and improvement.  Typical measurement may vary from hours to fractions of the second, depending on production rates.

Employees are customers, thus should be surveyed on a regular basis.  According to Jack Welsh, former GE chief, employee satisfaction is a KEY toward greater productivity and quality.  He fills the survey factors should include:

  • Job satisfaction                         * Advancement fairness
  • Training                                     * Treatment: Respect and dignity
  • Pay                                               * Company’s interest in well-being


Instruments to Gather Data (IV-47)

There are may instruments or tools available for everyone for the purposes of collecting customer information.  Some common instruments are as follows:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Face–to–face interviews
  • Satisfaction/complaint cards
  • Dissatisfaction sources
  • Competitive shopper

There are also traditional methods of attaining customer information and they can be used just as well (IV-47).

Information gathered should allow the organization to identify customer requirements and to spot upcoming trends.  The trends will be new ways for the company to gain or retain customers.  Customers seem to be more satisfied if they receive the back  then when they do not.

Voice of the Internal Customer (IV-48)

Surveys can establish communication process serving as a tool for overall improvement.  Information should be gathered on improvement effort and some of the following factors

  • State of the company
  • State of quality efforts
  • State of the processes
  • Reaction to policies
  • Rating of company satisfaction
  • Rating of job satisfaction

Voice of External Customers

The voice of the customers and expression for listening to the external customer.  Among the ways that accompany can listen to external customers are:

  • Immediate customer surveys
  • Customer follow-up surveys
  • Community surveys
  • Personal customer contact
  • Customer contact reports given to the contact employee
  • Focus groups
  • Customer interviews and counsels
  • Electronic mail
  • Test marketing
  • Quality guarantees
  • Inspectors
  • Ombudsman
  • 1 800 telephone numbers and suggestion box

Customer Surveys (IV-49)

Research on customer satisfaction can be worthwhile in helping the company’s efforts customer satisfaction research was a $2 billion into street in 1994.

A few custom survey themes are noted as follows

  • To determine what quality is
  • Find, out what competitors are doing
  • Defined quality performance measures for use
  • Identify factors to give a competitive average
  • Identify urgent problems

In evaluating customer information, not all attributes or transactions are treated equally they should be weighed.  As customers needs change, evaluations change.

Customer surveys sizes, sample sizes and frequency can have a significant impact on cost and should be chosen to balance to business resources and he needs to monitor change in the business environment.

L-Type Survey Matrix (IV-49)

The L–type matrix survey, uses a numerical scale from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 10 (very satisfied) in order to make it easier to quantify the results.

Survey Pitfalls (IV-50)

Surveys are methods of gathering data, care should be taken with that data.  Problems which can occur in the use of surveys include:

  • Improper survey form design
  • Poorly defined survey issues
  • Sampling errors or poor sampling techniques
  • Ignoring nonresponsiveness
  • Treating customer perceptions as objective measures
  • Using incorrect analysis methods
  • Training surveys as an event, not a process
  • Asking nonspecific questions
  • Failing to ask the right questions
  • Ignoring results or using them incorrectly
  • Failing to provide feedback when necessary
  • Using too many questions (25–30 questions are typical)
  • Using a temporary employee to conduct interviews

Customer Service Measurement

Customer service measurements can be obtained through various instruments such as those mentioned above.  Some of the more common techniques include:

  • Customer surveys measuring quality, service, performance, etc.
  • Customer visits
  • Customer service engineer feedback
  • Complaint analysis: Rejects, renal analysis

For a consumer survey, Hayslip (1994) suggests there may be some differences:

  • A potentially larger customer population
  • Small purchase volumes
  • A small purchased transaction
  • The supplier may know more than the customer


Customer Data Analysis (IV-51)

A green belt can analyze customer data in order to determine when and where customer attitudes are different or are changing.  Comparing customer attitudes over time or between groupings can provide insight into margin issues and changes.  The results of customer feedback data collection can be analyzed using various tools:

  • Statistical tests
  • Line graphs
  • Control charts


  • Matrix diagrams (IV-52)
  • Pareto analysis
  • Other comparative analyses

Determine Critical Customer Requirements (IV-53)

 Ultimately, it is the customer who determines the value of any product (goods and services) with a decision to buy or not by.  These decisions of based on a complex system of critical customer requirements.  In order to manage (control and improved) any business process, one must be able to determine the critical customer requirements that influence these decisions.

Customer value is made up of cost, quality, features, and availability factors (CQFA).  To prosper, a business process must do well and at least one (1) of these four (4) areas while at least meeting acceptable levels in the others.  If a business can be “best in class” in any of these four (4) quadrants, or above average in more than one quadrant, they can thrive.  However, the level of the bar in all the quadrants is constantly changing because of the environment and competition.  For this reason, determination of critical customer requirements must be a continuing activity.

In addition to looking into customers CQFA preferences, it also helps to understand the entire system of customer expectations, needs, and priorities.  To understand clinical relationships and interactions of all these factors, tools, such as the cause–and–effect and quality function deployment, should be employed.

Customer Expectations

A deeper knowledge of the customers is required in order to properly serve them.  There is a need to go beyond the sale, to uncover the subjective factors of why the product was purchased.  The emphasis on listening to the customer, results and information on customer expectations, priorities of expectation, and needs.

The customer’s expectations of the product can be described through an analogy similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  (Albrecht, 1992):

  • Basic
  • Expected
  • Desired (IV-54)
  • Unanticipated