Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Voice of the Customer

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

  1. State of the company: What is the employee’sperception of the company?

  2. State of quality efforts: Are the qualityefforts worthwhile?

  3. State of the processes: Are there improvements?

  4. Reaction to policies: What dumb things have beenimplemented?

  5. Rating of job satisfaction: Do l like my job, myboss, etc.?

  6. Rating of company satisfaction: Is the company agood place to work?

Voice of the External Customer:

The voice of thecustomer is an expression for listening to the external customer. It is necessary to have constant contact withthe customer. To some companies, complaints are the only waythat they listen to their customers. It has been stated that complaints are gold,because complaints let the company know how to improve, and how tobeat the competition. Among the ways that a company can listen to theexternal customer are:

Immediate customer surveys

Customer follow-up surveys ( months, year, and years)

Community Surveys: A look at what the communityis doing.

Personal Customer Contact: CEO spends one dayper month with a customer Customer contact reports given to thecontact employee.

Focus Groups: Small and large groups Customerinterviews or councils, Electronic mail.

Test Marketing: A small area is tested for use.

Quality Guarantees: If not satisfied, we will redo the training.

Inspectors: The use of mystery shoppers or auditors.

Ombudsmen: Advocates for the customer.

The suggested measurements are:

  • Price

  • Product range

  • Conformance quality

  • Design

  • Delivery speed

  • Brand name

  • Reliability of delivery

  • Technical support

  • Demand increases

  • After sales support

  • Color range

The secondary or consequential metrics would be derived from the primary metrics. For example, if cycle time was determined to be a key metric, the next step would be to establish the numericalmeasurement.

Examples of measurements include:

  • Defects per unit (DPU)

  • Defects per million opportunities (DPMO)

  • Average age of receivables

  • Lines of error free software code

  • Reduction in scrap.

Collecting Customer Data:

Collecting data to gain “the voice of thecustomer” is a multi-level task. When collecting data from customers, it helps to consider the levels where customers impact the business.

Business Level:

Customers at this level are primarily shareholders and top management employees. The data of interest is primarily financial datasuch as stock price, market share, revenues, earnings,return-on-investment (ROI), return-on-net assets (RONA), etc. Typical measurement intervals may be quarterly or annually.

Operations Level:

Customers 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 effectiveness), and internal operationsefficiency (internal measures such as rolled throughput yield, sigmalevels, WIP inventory, etc.). Typical analysis tools 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:

Customers at this level are primarily internal, including employees and the “next process” in the operation. External customers include suppliers fordetailed material specification questions. Data of interest primarily involves key process variables. Typical analysis tools are statistical methods for process control, capability, and improvement. Typical measurement may vary from hours to fractions of a second, depending on production rates. Since employees are customers, they should be surveyed on a regular basis. Employee satisfaction is a key toward greater productivity and quality.

The key survey factors should include:

  • Job satisfaction

  • Advancement fairness

  • Training

  • Treatment: Respect & dignity

  • Pay: Company’s interest in well-being


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