QFD for product & business development

Voice of the Customer – The Next Frontier in Business Acceleration

Voice of the Customer – The Next Frontier in Business Acceleration

VoC (Voice of the Customer) and QFD (Quality Functional Deployment) are to modern businesses what Bill Smith’s Six Sigma practice was to Motorola in 1986.

   We see it all the time: agile, lean six sigma, IDLC, SDLC, waterfall, and stage-gate – these are just a few of the many options available for your organization to become “leaner” and “faster.”
But what does it mean? How does it make your products and services more attractive to customers and improve your organization’s bottom line?

   The future of an organization relies on its ability to hear the voice of the customer (VoC) and implement those needs, desires, and wants as features, functions, and capabilities in its products, services and business models. This has never been more complicated than in today’s digital age. The voice of the customer is louder and more demanding than ever before.

VoC is the most critical driver to successful product and services innovation.

   It provides the essential elements of your customers’ interests, needs, and preferences. It is the first step in a series of many for intelligent and specific best in class tools needed to receive customer requirements and trace those requirements all the way down to detailed design and deployment. Implementation of VOC and QFD will guide organizations to rethink their business practices and break apart silos, bringing teams together under one unified vision.

   Imagine a company starting a new product development project. They hire an expensive and skilled marketing firm to conduct customer research, analyze the customers’ needs and expectations, and then make recommendations. Based on those recommendations a complete product requirements list will be prepared and a new product will be developed. What is wrong with this? Nothing, if the requirement list is complete and clearly understood by all parties involved in development. If not, it is another wasted investment. Additionally, having insights into customer needs for the purpose of product development does not necessarily drive business strategy, growth tactics, or plans for new business development. VoC is not a one-off or infrequent event to understand customer requirements; it drives essential business processes and decisions on all organizational levels.

QFD provides an alternative to traditional methodologies by implementing best practices and incorporating VoC in all business units throughout an organization’s lifecycle.

   Hearing and using VoC becomes common business practice. This approach breaks the traditional silo walls of an organization and aligns people, process, and technology to a clear business objective.

   Jack Welch is renowned for taking Bill Smith’s Six Sigma practice and implementing it at General Electric (GE). The results were unprecedented growth and a 4,000% rise in company value over his tenure. Working to implement QFD as a best practice for VoC in your organization will usher in an era of innovation, communication, teamwork, and improved customer satisfaction.

Written by:
Biba Visnjicki

Biba Visnjicki

Program director

   Over the last decade Biba has supported companies world-wide in business development and innovation projects. Biba Visnjicki started her professional career in Serbia as a product and business developer. In 1998 she become regional Managing Director of Mobile Oil for the former Yugoslavia region. After finishing her PhD studies she has focused on developing her competencies and skills in the domains of strategy...

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