Building in the Voice of the Customer

Building in the Voice of the Customer. (Quality Functional Deployment.)

In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of : BA(Ordinary) Food Marketing

Building in the Voice of the Customer.

The first understanding of "building in the voice of the customer" for the manufacturer, are you producing a product that the consumer feels satisfied with? Within so many products there are sometimes so many misunderstandings because the customer and the product development teams speak completely different languages. For example a customer may state they would like a car that is easy to start, this interpretation to the engineers is the production of a car that starts within 10 seconds of continuous cranking. Another example could be the customer wants a "soap leaves the skin soft" this must be translated into pH or hardness specifications for the bar of soap.( Evans 1993 ) By the incorrect translation within the organisations different departments, the customers\' requirements can become irreclaimable and lost forever. The Japanese developed the concept of quality functional deployment (QFD) to hopefully ensure that all customer requirements were discovered throughout the stages of design process and also in the area of design of production systems. QFD is fundamentally a philosophy and is driven by an arrangement of planning and communication tools that is aimed totally to the customer needs and requirements, this is done by co-ordination within the design, the manufacturing and marketing of goods. QFD originated in 1972 at Mitsubishi\'s Kobe shipyard site, Toyota then took over the development of QFD. QFD is now used successfully world-wide by manufacturers of electronics, appliances, clothing, construction equipment and by firms such as General Motors, Ford, Mazda, Motorola, Xerox, Kodak, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T ( Evans 1993 ) Within a critical level, QFD offers the incentive and opportunity for senior management to release themselves from the traditional hierarchy and narrow-minded attitude on "results" ,which are only measurable at the completion of the sale, though with the implementation of QFD the broader-minded process is of how to focus on how the results are obtained Before we identify the voice of the customer the organisation will move away from the more traditional approach of it\'s departments such as product planning, design teams, research and development tested, refined and marketed. If the consumers needs can be correctly identified first time, then such wasteful re-engineering will be eliminated. This is the initial philosophy of Quality Functional Deployment. One of the major benefits of QFD is improved communication and teamwork between all constituencies in the production process, such as between marketing and design, design and manufacturing, purchasing and suppliers etc. Product objectives are not misunderstood or mis- interpatated during the production process. QFD helps to determine the causes of customer dissatisfaction, and is a useful tool for competitive analysis of product quality by top management. ( Evans 1993 ) This definitely allows the organisation to bring new products onto the market sooner and will confidently help the organisation to gain the competitive edge. The customers requirements is called simply voice of the customer, these can be catalogued into the following areas customer needs, satisfies, exciters delighters and dissatifiers. A set of matrixes are used to relate to the voice of the customer to counterpart characteristic requirements when they are expressed as technical specifications and process control requirements. There are four principle planning documents.

Customer requirements planning matrix. This translates the voice of the customer into counterpart characteristics of the final product

Product characteristic deployment. This translates counterpart characteristic of the final product into critical component characteristics.

Process plan and quality control charts. The document identifies critical process and product parameters and control points of each.

Operating instructions. This identifies operations to be performed by plant personnel to assure that important parameters are achieved.

This matrix is the fundamental contents of the QFD inspiration. Within the configuration of the matrixes it is often defined as "the house of quality" because of its shape. The house of quality relates customer attributes to the counterpart characteristics to ensure that any engineering decision has a basis of meeting a customer need. (Dale & Plunckett 1990 )

To build the house of quality within the organisation, it consists of completing six steps. (See Appendix 1)

1. Identify customer attributes.

2. Identify counterpart characteristics.

3. Relate the customer