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"Define Phase" Tools: Voice of the Customer (VOC)

An organization should improve on parameters that are important to the customers; VOC is a tool that can be used to understand what the customers want from the customers' perspective. What the customers tell you are their expectations might be different from what you believe they expect. The purpose of the Six Sigma project is to give to the customers what they want/need and not give the customers just what you think they want/need.
Examples of VOC methods are shown in the table below:
Focus group
Able to obtain detailed answers to specific questions.
The number of customers able to participate is low.
Higher response rate than focus group or survey.
Cost and time; must be conducted in person or by phone. One-on-one process can be costly and time-consuming.
Easy and cost-effective; can be written or electronic survey
Low response rate
The method that is used is determined by the resources, including technology, that are available and the customers who are being evaluated. If a reference laboratory received 85% of their business from five clients, a focus group with representatives from those five clients would work well. For a laboratory with hundreds of ordering physicians, a survey would be preferred since it can reach out to all customers. If a laboratory wants to improve its employee satisfaction, interviews conducted by the Human Resources department or a consulting firm would be helpful.