‘True’ quality characteristics are those that relate to your customer’s requirements. In order to meet these requirements, we need to be able to identify and measure the processes which are designed to meet them, i.e. we need to link the customer to our processes and link measures to the voice of your customer.
By developing causal links between them we can establish which process measures we should improve, and which improve results measures and customer satisfaction.
Process for establishing the right measures
1. Capture the Voice of the Customer
Use interviews and surveys to capture the customer’s own words regarding their requirements: e.g. “how do you like your pizza?”
Convert their words to simple expressions limited to a single thought – ensure they are operationally defined, e.g. “I like my pizza hot” -> “hot” = temperature at point of delivery measured in °Celsius at the centre of the pizza using a calibrated non-contact infrared thermometer
Categorise the re-worded data and assign major headings and populate the left top of the T-matrix
2. Deploying customer needs into the process
Now that you have your customer’s requirements, you need to link them to product or service characteristics and measures. To do this, two matrices are used. The first defines the relationship between the customer’s words and the identified results measures. The second shows the relationship of the results measures to the process measures.
Develop the customer words – results measures relationships
List current result measures to check whether customer requirements are being met.
Define the relationship between the customer requirements and the result measures using a matrix
Identify any customer requirements which need additional result measures.
Develop the results measures – process measures relationships
Identify which requirements are most important to your customer and which results measures are more in need of improvement.
3. Developing the matrix
There are two established ways to display the matrices, the two L-Matrices or, my favourite, a T-matrix. The T-matrix has the benefit that you can see the key relationships between the Voice of the Customer > Results Measure > Process Measures within a single picture.
When developing your matrix, use symbols to express the strength of the relationship. Remember, these are subjective based on your experience of the process of interest.
Now you can express the causal link in a logic chain and assess what you should measure within the process that influences customer feedback. The assumption is that by improving the process measure, you improve the results measure, which in turn improves the customer response.
Are you measuring too much?
If the measures are not linked to the voice of the customer, challenge yourself whether you truly need that measurement. You may find that an internal customer requires one measure and the external customer a different one (efficiency versus effectiveness).
What to do when you are not measuring enough
In this case, develop new measures that are directly linked to the respective customer feedback. Where possible test them first small-scale and then roll out.
Don’t forget: link measures to your customers!
The process for selecting the right measures will only yield the best results if we are actively engaged with our customers, only then will we know what measures to choose. So remember, always link measures to the voice of your customer.