Voice Of Customer (VOC)
What is Voice Of the Customer (VOC)?
In any Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma or Operational Excellence initiative, the ability to understand and analyze customer needs is the starting point of the improvement journey. Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a process used to capture the needs / requirements /feedback from the customer (internal or external), both stated and unstated.
VOC can be captured in a variety of ways: Direct discussion or interviews, surveys, focus groups, customer specifications, observation, warranty data, field reports, complaint logs, etc.
Using Kano Model for Voice of the Customer (VOC) Analysis
One powerful tool for VOC analysis is Kano model developed by Professor Noriaki Kano of Tokyo Rika University. It is a tool which can be used to classify and prioritize customer needs. This is useful because customer needs are not all of the same kind, not all have the same importance, and are different for different populations. The results can be used to prioritize your effort in satisfying different customers.
The Kano model addresses the three types of requirements:
- The ‘Must Be ’: Allows a company to get into the market. Without this, you will never be able to sell the products / services. Expected features or characteristics of a product or service (legible forms, correctly spelled name, basic functionality). These needs are typically “unspoken.” If these needs are not fulfilled, the customer will be extremely dissatisfied. ‘Must be’ characteristics are generally taken for granted—unless they are absent!
An example of an “unspoken” need when staying at a hotel is cleanliness. When a guest books a hotel room, he/she does not need to specify that they need a clean room. They expect it. If this basic need is not met, the guest will be extremely dissatisfied.
- The ‘More is Better’: Standard characteristics that increase or decrease satisfaction by their degree (cost/price, ease of use, speed). These needs are typically “spoken.” Customers generally discuss or bring up issues related to More Is Better characteristics (also called ‘linear satisfiers’).
Using the hotel example again, “spoken” needs could be internet access, breakfast provided, a non-smoking room, laundry services available etc.
- The ‘Delighters’ : These really make your product stand out from the others. Allows a company to excel, and stand out among the competition. Unexpected features or characteristics that impress customers and delight them. These needs are also typically “unspoken.” Delighters are generally
not mentioned, since the customers are not dissatisfied with their absence( perhaps they may not even know the existence of these Delighters).
Using the hotel example again, the guests are delighted by fresh fruits plates upon checking in, complimentary limousine services, etc.
Summary of Kano Analysis
- It helps to identify unspoken needs before prioritization.
- It is intended to help prioritize customer needs.
- It should be linked to a company’s multi-generational project plan.
Considerations in using Kano Model
It is important to note that customers’ expectations and/or needs vary over time. What delighted customers in the past is now expected and what is expected today will not meet minimum customer expectations in the future.
For example, wireless internet access in a hotel room was considered a “Delighter” in the past, a “More is Better” today, and will likely become a “Must Be” in the near future.
Hence, it is important to constantly review VOC using the Kano model at regular intervals to ensure that customers’ needs are updated and fulfilled.
( Reference: Total Quality Development, Don Clausing, ASME press, 1994 )
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