Business Center

Voice of the Customer

The Tool and Why It’s Valuable

One of the most important principles of Lean is that value is defined by the customer. Keeping this in mind, each Lean project team should seek to learn what customers appreciate (continue doing), and what they do not like (eliminate or change).

We define customers as the end user of the process. Those who play a role are called “stakeholders” and those that benefit from the process are considered “beneficiaries.” You may wish to consult these groups, but avoid confusing them with the true customer. If you are unsure of who your customer(s) are, see Boundary Map (SIPOC) on page 39.

Input can be gathered from customers through surveys, interviews, focus groups or comments from customer-facing employees.

Use the voice of the customer to design your solutions during the Lean it!

Step in the SOLVE model.

How to Apply It

Consider gaining customer feedback through one or more of the following:

  1. Customer Surveys – automated methods such as online surveys that use Likert scales, provide quantitative insights.
  2. Interviews – face-to-face meetings are effective in obtaining rich qualitative information.
  3. Focus Groups – these are effective for gaining a higher volume of customer input data. Focus groups also benefit from the person-to-person dynamics of a facilitated group discussion.
  4. Input from Customer-facing Employees – those serving customers directly can share the most frequent issues their customers have shared.
Pearls and Pitfalls
  • If you don’t know what your customers value, you may waste resources on implementing an ineffective solution.
  • Mix methods to develop both a quantitative baseline (useful measuring in the long run) and qualitative insights (useful for designing for improvements).

Example of Interview Guide

Interview Guide: CDOT Access Permits Lean Project

Interview Preamble 

This interview is conducted as part of the preparations for the Access Permit Customer Service Vision Workshop planned for the access permits staff at CDOT. The objectives of the workshop are to develop and agree with a vision of a potential future process that delivers an excellent service experience to CDOT customers.

We will use the information you provide us to define key questions, bring out key issues and explore the challenges in the course of the discussions that will take place during the workshop.

I would appreciate your views on the following matters or issues:

  • What is your role at (company)? How long have you worked for (company)?  Have you ever worked anywhere else and if so, where was that?
  • Have you ever worked in retail or customer service? What is the best customer service experience you have had as a customer and why was it so good?  What is the worst customer service experience you have had as a customer and why was it so bad?  What companies or places do you think are really good at customer service, even if you have not experienced them in person, and why?
  • What words would you use to describe your experience with CDOT? What do you wish you could use to describe that experience?
  • How well do you think the access permit process is understood by the staff? Do you think most people involved with granting an access permit could describe the process steps and are familiar with the rules and regulations that govern the granting of a permit?
  • Why do you think we are conducting this workshop and what do you hope to get out of our time? How will you measure the success of the project?

Interview Close

Thank you for your time and thoughtful participation in the interview. Your views will help us considerably in assembling an agenda for the workshop. The goal of this interview is to help participants think creatively about potential improvements from the customer’s point of view.  If there is anything else you’d like to share, please contact Name at [email protected]  We appreciate your candor and your assistance and look forward to your company at the workshop.

Example of Survey

VoC-example of survey.JPG