Blog author

Clayton Taylor, MBA, is a Management Research Analyst, Pr. and Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt working in the Office of the Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer at Arizona State University. He currently consults with nine diverse Business and Finance operational areas to lower costs, improve operational efficiency and provide the highest quality customer experience to internal and external customers. Mr. Taylor can be reached at clayton.taylor@asu.edu.

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Blog

How Voice Of Customer Data Is Being Used: Part 1

In this blog, I am going to jump back to the topic of Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback.  I was recently asked to provide an example of how VOC feedback is being used by Business and Finance service units to identify areas of opportunity and make improvements.  One department that is very active when it comes to listening to customers is Parking and Transit Services.  They have put a great deal of effort into assessing customer needs, the university’s needs, and balancing all of this with operational requirements.

Collecting Feedback Through Surveys

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Defining Your Customer

Who are your customers?

When I work with people to help them improve their services (or products), this is one of the first questions I ask.  You might think this is an easy question to answer, but it is not as simple as it appears.  Most of the responses I get are pretty broad, undefined and not terribly helpful.  The conversations often go something like this:

CT:  “Who are your customers?”

Manager:  “Everyone at the university.” 

CT:  “Who is ‘everyone’?”

Manager:  “Students, faculty and staff.”

CT:  “Do they all need exactly the same thing from you?”

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A Quick Look At Metrics

Metrics help us understand the world around us, help us evaluate our processes and outputs, and ultimately make decisions and take actions to ensure that we are meeting our customers’ needs.  I thought now would be a good time to bring up the subject of metrics for two reasons.  One, my last blog introduced you to vision, mission, goals, and objectives; and it is goals and objectives to which we apply metrics.  The second reason is that I am working on a project with the Business and Finance units which centers on developing and refining metrics.  Since I'm having these discussions with various unit leaders, I thought I would share some of what we have been discussing with you.

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Vision / Mission / Goals / Objectives

Many organizations talk about their vision, mission, goals and objectives (VMGO); and there is a great deal of activity and time spent writing the vision and mission statements that are meant to represent the organization.  Unfortunately, these fantastic tools are frequently treated as leadership exercises or simply used for marketing purposes and are not directly connected to the organization’s goals and objectives.  When used properly, vision and mission statements guide all of the day-to-day activities in the organization.  The vision drives the mission of the organization, and the mission defines what goals and supporting objectives must be accomplished.

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Identifying Waste In A Process

In my previous blog I said that to provide any product or service, you have to use resources like money, materials, labor, time, and information.  The goal is to provide the greatest amount of value to customers while utilizing the least amount of your resources.  I also said that each step in a process can be classified into one of three categories:

  • Value-added
  • Non-value added, but necessary
  • Non-value added (waste)

In this post I would like to dive a little deeper into that third bullet and talk about what exactly comprises waste in a process.

Non-Value Added Steps (Waste)

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Value-Added And Non-Value Added Process Steps

To provide any product or service, you have to use resources like money, materials, labor, time, and information.  The goal is to provide the greatest amount of value to customers while utilizing the least amount of your resources.  This idea of adding value to products and services is a key concept of Lean.  It is defined as anything for which the customer would be willing to pay.  If what you are providing is not something the customer would be willing to pay you for, then you are not providing value to the customer.

Any time you begin analyzing a process, you want to look at each step and determine if it is contributing to the value of the desired output.  Each step can be classified into one of three categories:

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Hearing The Voice Of The Customer Part 3: Making Your VOC Useful

Note: This blog primarily refers to gathering Voice Of Customer information about services; however, this concept applies to both products and services. The term customer refers to someone to whom you provide any type of service.

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Hearing The Voice Of The Customer Part 2:  Gathering VOC

Note:  This blog primarily refers to gathering Voice Of Customer information about services; however, this concept applies to both products and services.  The term customer refers to someone to whom you provide any type of service.

In "Hearing The Voice Of The Customer Part 1:  Identifying Your Customers," I talked about the need to correctly identify who your customers are so that you can gather meaningful Voice Of Customer (VOC) feedback about what services they need, what features and value your services must provide, and what type of customer experience they expect.

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Hearing The Voice Of The Customer Part 1: Identifying Your Customers

Note:  This blog primarily refers to gathering Voice Of Customer information about services; however, this concept applies to both products and services.

The term “Voice Of Customer” or VOC is being used more frequently as organizations take steps to ensure their products and services appeal to and meet the needs of their customers.  Gathering VOC is a structured approach to understanding customer needs, perceptions and opinions; and plays a crucial role in defining the products and services that you provide.  Through gathering and analyzing this information you can:

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Solving Problems Using Deterministic Reasoning

When you hear that the service you are providing needs to be improved, there is a sudden sense of urgency to take action and make improvements.  This is especially true if the feedback was unexpected.  I want to caution you against just jumping at the problem and taking action without first understanding your customers’ needs and looking for the root cause of the problem.  If you rush into things and address the wrong issues your well intentioned efforts will go to waste.

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