Capturing The Voice of The Customer…/.
As business operators, the relationships we build with the ultimate consumers of our services/products, our customers, are very delicately complex. Often times, the customers are very vocal in sharing their desires and wants with us, but, more often than not, we may be engrossed in perfecting that service or product without addressing the must have requirements of these customers. It is extremely crucial to our continued success in the marketplace to listen to, and correctly analyze the needs & requirements of our customers. Customers may be internal or external in nature. Employees in an organization are internal customer in relation to the training department. On the other hand, customers outside of our organization are considered external. Customers are often segmented based on their impact on our business, geography, or customer loyalty. Hear what the customers are saying, and more importantly what they are not saying.
Needs & Requirements:
Needs of the customers are the core elements that establishes a relationship between them and your organization in the first place. These are products or services that fill a void. Requirements, on the other hand, are those specifications that delight the customer. These are specifications that fulfil a need, they determine if the customer is happy or not
Target & Specification:
Target represents a Customer’s ideal performance against some requirements. For example, in an ideal world, customers would like to walk into a pharmacy and have their prescription(s) filled as soon as possible, almost instantaneously if you will, unfortunately, this process will take some time. The target represents the customer’s ideal situation. While many organizations try to satisfy a customer’s target, we need to acknowledge that the target may be impossible to meet, but as close to it as possible will suffice. This brings up the idea of specifications. These are the least acceptable product or service a customer is willing to put up with before registering some form of displeasure. The customer’s target may be to fill a prescription immediately, but waiting 15 minutes for the process may be acceptable. It represents the threshold beyond which the customer is no longer happy. In this case the target is filling a prescription ASAP, while the specification is 15 minutes
It is very important to understand and address these 4 elements to ensure we keep our customers satisfied at all times
Six major ways a team may acquire knowledge of the customers’ desire
1) Focus Group: This can be expensive but it allows for thorough brainstorming when it is managed by a seasoned facilitator. Often times, the group will comprise of representatives of all stakeholders
2) Customer Observations: Involves watching the interaction between the customer and the product, or the interaction with the intended service. This provides rich and relevant data
3) Face to face Interviews: Very effective tool, but there is only so many interviews you can conduct before losing enthusiasm. Are you likely to be as effective in the 20th interview as you did in the 2nd interview, time consuming.
4) Market Research : A third party consultancy firm is contracted to gather and analyze data to be funneled into a process improvement initiative
5) Surveys: A series of Likert Scale questions to gather customers feedback
6) Complaints: This creates a unique opportunity to rectify what the customers consider to be frustrating, or a defect.
Prioritizing customers’ Needs & Requirements using Kano Model
The Kano model uses certain markers to identify how important certain requirements are to our customers. A well thought through information gathering process will help your organization categorize these requirements, which will in turn enable an informed decision should you attempt to embark on a process improvement initiative be considered
1) Must Haves: The presence of these requirements will not get the customer excited, but the absence of these qualities will be noticed and thereby make the customer unhappy. You don’t get a pat in the back for opening on time, as this is expected. These are sometimes referred to as satisfiers. Examples include, Courteous & professional frontline staff members, Knowledgeable staff members on hand to triage customers’ requests at all times, prompt access to the Pharmacist in the pharmacy when required, etc.
2) Nice to Haves: These are requirements that are not expected by the customers, but are appreciated when they are present nonetheless, the more of these qualities there are, the happier the customers become. They are variables and not static. As the industry evolves, these Nice to Have requirements will soon become “Must Haves”. Examples include greeting a repeat customer by name and knowing their preferences. Sometimes called exciters
3) Delighters: These are differentiator requirements between you and your competition. They are not expected but when present they make the customers extremely happy. These represent some value add service you are providing that your competition isn’t. Going the extra mile to further solidify the customers chose. Example – calling a prescriber to change a medication order because the prescribed one has a higher copayment. When this happens, customers are generally delighted and will remain a loyal customer to your brand
4) Frustrators: Attributes that when present make the customers frustrated and unhappy. These are features that may have been wrongly classified requirements by your organization, but actually a source of pain to the customers. Example, the blinking light in the hotel room telephone. It is to indicate a message or a missed call, but often, it is a general message form the hotel management welcoming you to their facility., secondly, a long protracted telephone menu that leaves customers more confused
Based on these 4 categories, I urge you to look inward to assess them as they affect you particular facility. Understanding & properly segmenting customers’ needs is extremely crucial to being the leader in your market. Failure to continue to delight the customers may spell disaster as your competition may fill in the gap…./.