Problems with VOC

The main problem with Voice of the customer is that most organizations fail to grasp the need and importance to correctly manage it. That second step is crucial – many organizations collect rafts of data from their market and direct clients, use it in marketing strategies and product design but fail to incorporate it within processes and organizational improvement.

Another common issue is contradictory information – for example a product specification that says one thing a purchase order that says another – managing the flow of information between large organizations can be extremely challenging and ensuring that there is one single version of the “truth” is a common challenge when defining VOC – indeed many organizations may pride themselves in believing they know what their customer wants but could be wide of the mark. Organizations that manage VOC effectively tend to have organizational structures that support relationship management with people owning the VOC.

Many organization associate Voice of Customer with avoiding the cost of customer problems. Often businesses set up associated systems to manage the balance of cost of mitigation or acceptance of the cost of failure – this isn’t true management of voice of the customer as businesses are tacitly accepting failure as the cost of failure outweighs the cost of resolving the business issues.

The result of failing to correctly capture the voice of the customer can have a direct impact on which six sigma programs are selected – how they operate and what targets they are set.

Leadership often make six sigma project selections without considering the impact of the VOC, this could be due to inadequate data, a lack of appreciation for the concept or driving improvement initiatives based solely on reducing cost. By incorporating VOC the organization is both ensuring value is being added to the process but also directly influencing market competitiveness through retaining and enhancing the customer experience. Six Sigma professionals should be wary of projects that don’t reflect VOC and should look to incorporating strategies that ensure VOC becomes an intrinsic part of business improvement planning.

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