Building In The Voice Of The Customer

Essay, Research Paper Building in the Voice of the Customer. (Quality Functional Deployment.) In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of : BA(Ordinary) Food Marketing

Essay, Research Paper

Building in the Voice of the Customer. (Quality Functional Deployment.)

In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of : BA(Ordinary) Food Marketing

Building in the Voice of the Customer.

The first understanding of “building in the voice of the customer” for the manufacturer, are you producing a product that the consumer feels satisfied with? Within so many products there are sometimes so many misunderstandings because the customer and the product development teams speak completely different languages. For example a customer may state they would like a car that is easy to start, this interpretation to the engineers is the production of a car that starts within 10 seconds of continuous cranking. Another example could be the customer wants a “soap leaves the skin soft” this must be translated into pH or hardness specifications for the bar of soap.( Evans 1993 ) By the incorrect translation within the organisations different departments, the customers’ requirements can become irreclaimable and lost forever. The Japanese developed the concept of quality functional deployment (QFD) to hopefully ensure that all customer requirements were discovered throughout the stages of design process and also in the area of design of production systems. QFD is fundamentally a philosophy and is driven by an arrangement of planning and communication tools that is aimed totally to the customer needs and requirements, this is done by co-ordination within the design, the manufacturing and marketing of goods. QFD originated in 1972 at Mitsubishi’s Kobe shipyard site, Toyota then took over the development of QFD. QFD is now used successfully world-wide by manufacturers of electronics, appliances, clothing, construction equipment and by firms such as General Motors, Ford, Mazda, Motorola, Xerox, Kodak, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T ( Evans 1993 ) Within a critical level, QFD offers the incentive and opportunity for senior management to release themselves from the traditional hierarchy and narrow-minded attitude on “results” ,which are only measurable at the completion of the sale, though with the implementation of QFD the broader-minded process is of how to focus on how the results are obtained Before we identify the voice of the customer the organisation will move away from the more traditional approach of it’s departments such as product planning, design teams, research and development tested, refined and marketed. If the consumers needs can be correctly identified first time, then such wasteful re-engineering will be eliminated. This is the initial philosophy of Quality Functional Deployment. One of the major benefits of QFD is improved communication and teamwork between all constituencies in the production process, such as between marketing and design, design and manufacturing, purchasing and suppliers etc. Product objectives are not misunderstood or mis- interpatated during the production process. QFD helps to determine the causes of customer dissatisfaction, and is a useful tool for competitive analysis of product quality by top management. ( Evans 1993 ) This definitely allows the organisation to bring new products onto the market sooner and will confidently help the organisation to gain the competitive edge. The customers requirements is called simply voice of the customer, these can be catalogued into the following areas customer needs, satisfies, exciters delighters and dissatifiers. A set of matrixes are used to relate to the voice of the customer to counterpart characteristic requirements when they are expressed as technical specifications and process control requirements. There are four principle planning documents.

Customer requirements planning matrix. This translates the voice of the customer into counterpart characteristics of the final product

Product characteristic deployment. This translates counterpart characteristic of the final product into critical component characteristics.

Process plan and quality control charts. The document identifies critical process and product parameters and control points of each.

Operating instructions. This identifies operations to be performed by plant personnel to assure that important parameters are achieved.

This matrix is the fundamental contents of the QFD inspiration. Within the configuration of the matrixes it is often defined as “the house of quality” because of its shape. The house of quality relates customer attributes to the counterpart characteristics to ensure that any engineering decision has a basis of meeting a customer need. (Dale & Plunckett 1990 )

To build the house of quality within the organisation, it consists of completing six steps. (See Appendix 1)

1. Identify customer attributes.

2. Identify counterpart characteristics.

3. Relate the customer attributes to the counterpart characteristics.

4. Conduct an evaluation of competing products.

5. Evaluate counterpart characteristics and develop targets.

6. Determine which counterpart characteristics to deploy in the remainder of the production

process.

The customers attributes are the product requirements that are desired by the customer, to obtain this information then the organisation could carry out market research or direct surveys to buyers asking for information on their needs and satisfaction rates with the product. Questions such as “Why does he or she buy the product ? and Does he or she buy the product? are important means of identifying customer attributes. ( Evans 1993 ) Information about customer attributes does not come from one source, sales staff have the direct knowledge on what the desires of the customer are. Maintenance technicians also have valued information as the customer will enquire why the product has broken down. (See Appendix 2) Counterpart characteristics are explained to be for the design and engineering teams and personify the technical characteristics that must be deployed over the design and manufacturing and service process. They need to be calculable as the expenditure will be controlled and then compared to the desired targets.

The example that has been within this essay is for the production of textbooks. There are many different technical characteristics the publisher has to consider, these could include areas such as how much research literature to cite, the amount of popular literature to reference, the number of numerical exercises, the number of open-ended exercises, amount of figures, colour, correctness of grammar etc. ( Evans 1993) The roof of the house of quality shows the interrelationships between any counterpart characteristics (See Appendix 3 ). Particular symbols are used to distinguish very strong relationships, strong relationships and weak relationships. Customer attributes are collated down the left side of the house of quality and counter characteristics are gathered across the top, as stated earlier we use the character symbols to identify the relationships similar to the roof of the house of quality. The purpose of this matrix is to examine if the final counterpart characteristics adequately covers the customer attributes. Counterpart characteristics can effect several customer attributes. The lack of a strong relationship between the customer attribute and any counterpart characteristic shows that the attributes are not addressed or that the final product will have difficulty in meeting customer needs. (Dale1992) (see Appendix 4) This part of the house of quality focuses on the importance of identifying each customer attribute and successfully evaluating existing products for each of the organisations attributes. Customer importance ratings portray the areas of the greatest interest and the highest expectations, that are expressed by the customer. Competitive evaluation helps to highlight the critical strengths and weaknesses in competing products. This enables the organisation to quest for opportunities to make improvements. This also links QFD to the organisations strategic vision, which will allow priorities to be taken up within the design process. (See Appendix 5) The evaluation of counterpart characteristics of competitive products can usually be accomplished through internal evaluation and then translated into more measurable terms. These evaluations can be collated with the evaluation of the customer attributes which will determine any inconsistency between customer evaluations and technical evaluations. For example if a competing product is found to best satisfy a customer attribute but the evaluation of the related counterpart characteristics indicated otherwise, then either the measures used are faulty or the product has an image difference (either positive toward the competitor or negative toward our product) this is affecting customer perceptions. ( Evans 1993) Within the basis of customer importance ratings and the existing products strengths and weaknesses (See Appendix 6) The selection of counterpart characteristics that must be deployed for the remainder of the process, this is of vital importance as we must identify the characteristics that have strong relationships to the customer needs, though have poor competitive performance, or are selling strong points. These characteristics will have to be assembled into a language of its own function within the design and production process so that correct performance and controls can be adapted to ensure that the voice of the customer is maintained. (See Appendix 6)

If Quality Functional Deployment (QFD) is used correctly it can ensure discipline within the multi-skilled teams concerning structure and conformance to regulated time scales. QFD also thrives on team attitude, and ensures organisation recognition towards customer needs and satisfiers. As they prioritise the customer needs, the customer only gets, what the customer pays for. With the use of QFD there will be constant communication throughout the organisation, so all aspects of customer quality is catered for. By the use of QFD, the organisation will achieve direct problem avoidance which can give the right organisation the superior marketing edge.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Evans, J. R (1993) The Management & Control of Quality; Lindsey 2nd edition

Jankowicz, AD , (1991) ‘Business research projects for students’, Chapman Hall.

The Good Study Guide.(1990) North ledge. Open University

Laurie. J. Mullens (1993) Management and Organisation Behaviour. 3rd Edition. Pitman Publishers

Sekaran, U. (1992) ‘Research methods for business . 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons Inc.