Capturing the Voice of the Customer Aim The Voice of the Customer (VOC) aims to establish who are the key customers of the process under investigation and what their high level requirements are. A process customer is someone who is closely affected or touched by the process output and often ‘receives’ the output. A stakeholder is different since they are interested in the process improvement but do not always receive the process output. Benefits Lean is a customer centric process and meeting customer needs is a key principle for process improvement. The VOC identifies both internal and external customers and captures their needs in a clear and concise way so that the process improvement has a focus to deliver improvements that are of value to the customer(s). Solutions generated should be checked for alignment with the customer needs. How it works Generating VOC is an important task and the process improvement team should initially identify who are the internal and external customers and then estimate what their needs are. The following workshop flipchart shows a list of customers for a process and their high level needs. Depending on the complexity of the process a range of techniques can be used to gather and validate the VOC:
- Affinity diagrams
- Focus Groups
- Interviews – face to face
- Direct observation
- Identify the customer groups
- Determine what their high level needs are in customer language
- Translate the customer language into specific values
- Validate the specific values
When we set out to improve a process we need to measure how it’s performing ‘now’ (current state) and later when we have updated the process (future state) to verify any improvement. So what should we measure? We often start with a key customer requirement (for example quality) and then translate this as a business measure (for example # of customer complaints received) and then further interpret it as an internal process measure (for example # of errors with delivered services/goods). A further insight into these business/company measures (often seen as lagging) and these internal process measures (often seen as leading) is as follows: What are lagging business measures?
- A measure of results and outcomes
- One that follows an event
- Knowing the ‘score’ – a snapshot
- Broader longer term focus
- Tend to be measured at the organisation or business unit level
- Examples – cost, efficiency, customer satisfaction, customer complaints
- Predicts goal achievement, you can influence them
- Can be more difficult to measure
- Enables pre-emptive actions
- Signal future events
- Tells you how the outcomes will be achieved
- Tend to be measured ‘in the process’
- Shorter term measures often measured more frequently
- Examples – error rates, in-process data capture, engaged employees, daily service levels.
- Prevent working on things you don’t need to
- Focus actions on the right things
- Improve the outcomes
- Opportunity to influence behaviours focused on outcome
- Sometimes hard to follow
- Can be harder to measure
- Requires you to change habits
- Lag measures feel reassuring!
- We need a combination of both
- Lagging measures provide a connection with the customer and the overall direction for the business process improvement project
- Lead measures provide the actions for the individual to improve the process
- Identify the measures of interest to the customer
- Determine what business lagging measures are a priority
- Create a list of options for process lead measures and how you will measure them
- Capture your current and future measurements
by Lean 6 Sigma
There are two levels of Green Belt namely Practitioner and Fully Certified
- Candidates initially train to become Green Belt Practitioners (Part 1) in eliminating process waste and improving flow using lean tools
- Further training using more advanced problem solving techniques to reduce defects and process variation can lead to becoming a Fully Certified Green Belt (Part 2).
by Lean 6 Sigma
Businesses naturally want to improve their processes - who wouldn't? But what are the indicators to suggest process improvement would be a good option and where should we start? What are the building blocks to make sure we set off in the right direction? The following list of questions will start to provide a framework for your process improvement initiatives:
- Are there 'effects' evident to suggest process improvements may be needed? eg process inefficiencies, internal or external customer complaints and/or defective service or product delivery?
- Do we need to carry out some investigations to establish the 'causes' of these issues? (if the solutions are known then they should be implemented!)
- Is the senior team aware and showing a desire to fix some of the problems ?
- Are potential improvement projects aligned to the business plans or strategies?
- Have the benefits been estimated and appear substantial enough?
- Is an improvement project realistic and likely to be finished inside say six months?
- Have you have identified and spoken to any of the internal or external process customers?
- Have you have collected any data or evidence on the output metric or is it mainly anecdotal?
- Has anyone have walked and mapped the process to check it out?
- Now you know if it is a valid process to fix - then you can ask who shall we assign/train to fix it?