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Voice of the Customer (VOC)

The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is more than complaints management or somebody else's job. It's also more than Requirements Analysis or other approaches to 'finding out what customers want'.

The Voice of the Customer is just that and a bit more. It is what customers are saying, during the whole of their stay with us, from thinking about buying to saying goodbye. This customer lifecycle has been characterized by the following stages, which spell the unforgettable word 'COILUSD':

  • Choosing
  • Ordering
  • Installing
  • Learning
  • Using
  • Supporting
  • Disposing

The 'bit more' beyond what they are saying it getting them to say it, capturing it and then making use of it! It can all be difficult but the last bit is often the hardest. A US survey of companies showed that over 80% of companies that surveyed their customers did nothing with the results! And yet customer voice is possibly the most powerful thing you can use.

A key part of VOC is to capture the actual words the customer says. Spot the difference:

  1. Some customers are not happy about delivery times.
  2. "It took six weeks to get here! And your competitors deliver next day!! If that's how much you value our custom we'll take our $200,000 of orders elsewhere." -- Company XYZ Sales Director

The second is more specific and more impactful.

Organizing such qualitative data is not as easy as drawing graphs from surveys, but both have their place. VOC can lead to direct action or it may be organized with such as Affinity Diagrams. Quality Function Deployment is a specific methodology that is intended to propagate the voice of the customer through successive stages of product development.

The Voice of the Customer is also key part of improving whole Value Delivery Systems (and, in fact anywhere the word 'value' appears).

See also:

Affinity Diagram, Customer, Focus Group, QFD, Surveys, Value Delivery Systems

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