Companies that implement LEAN work cooperatively with their customer to deliver high levels of value. To do this it is important to build a close relationship with the end user or recipient of your product or service. These relationships allow the business to understand and deliver the attributes/ requirements needed to meet customer expectations.
Implementing lean tools and techniques ensures that you manufacture what the customer exactly wants, in the quantity they seek and delivering when the customer wants it using the minimum resources.
A great lean tool or template to use when determining the customer requirements is the voice of the customer (VOC). The “VOC” is the term used to describe the stated and unstated needs or requirements of the customer. (isixsigma.com) Templates to capture the voice of the customer vary from lists, specification requirements, surveys, focus groups etc. This is an essential step to ensure that whatever lean project you embark on, it remains focused and more importantly relevant to the customer.
The mistake sometimes made is assuming what the customer wants but ends up being a real failure. At the end of the day it really is about engaging with the customer and sometimes even becoming a customer to better understand the needs.
Here are some is the different methods of researching the VOC (Opex Resources):
1. Customer satisfaction surveys: What areas are doing well and what is not going well.
2. Engaging your customer directly through dialogue: what does you customer consider important and how can we serve them to make things go easier?
3. Setup a complaints route through customer service desk or your website: what does you customer consider as a defect or poor service?
4. Act like a customer: buy your own product through your team. See what it feels like, is there anything you can improve?
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