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VOC, Voice of customer

Vishwadeep Khatri



Voice of Business (VOB) - is a tool that captures the stated and unstated needs of the shareholders/business owners. Business scorecard is a very commonly used tool to capture VOB. E.g. profits, viability of business, cost reduction, dividend pay-outs, return on equity etc.

Voice of Customer (VOC) - is a research tool that captures the stated and unstated needs/requirements of the customer. Interviews, focussed group discussions, surveys, observation, warranty data, complaints are some of the ways in which VOC can be captured.



An application oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Venugopal R on 10th October 2017. 




While VOC is considered as a key starting point for business excellence, can  overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business? Explain with examples. 


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Voice of Customer is an important factor while we work on understanding and deploying the customer requirements to design and process requirements. VOC is an essential input in preparing the HOQ (House of Quality) as part of the QFD (Quality Function Deployment) exercise.

To illustrate certain situations where overemphasis on VOC may not be practical or desirable, the following examples are discussed:

1.     Varying or even contradicting customer preferences:

Consider an case of designing the features for a consumer durable product... eg Washing Machine. One of the varying preference could be the color combinations on the machine. Another varying preference could be on the capacity requirements. While the range of preferences may be addressed to certain extent in the design and product mix, it has to be limited to a certain meaningful scope that will ensure return of investment.

2.     Feasibility, cost and technological competency:

There would be times when the expectation of the VOC may not be reachable considering the gap in technological and process competency that may prove too much to bridge within a given span of time and investment power. For eg. If a normal passenger car manufacturer gets a requirement for a racing car, it practically may not be a requirement that they may want to attempt.

3.     Statutory and safety standards:

Irrespective of the VOC, certain statutory and safety related requirements, regulations. Upon overall interest for compliance to regulatory requirements, companies may have to override customer expectations. In such cases the company should have the ability to explain and educate the customer for such decisions. Eg. Contain engine performance in an automobile to meet the pollution norms; exercise adequate pre-conditions for withdrawing money from bank account, which might result in exceeding the expected waiting time.

4.     Innovative Products:

Innovative products could be a game changer for consumers where the design has to be conceived differently from the prevailing VOC. For eg. How the concept of Smart Phones emerged based on the innovation by Apple. Here, there is always a risk due to straying away from the existing VOCs, but if it succeeds, the payoffs could be tremendous.

5.     Customers rely on supplier expertise:

For certain products, the customers might rely on a popular brand that has been in existence and proven for long. Many a time the customer may not be knowledgeable in all features and would rely on the branded product, which would offer features beyond the expectations of a normal customer. This is a case where the company would like to provide features that were not even known by the customer. This would apply to various consumer durable products, electronic appliances, cars etc. and could result in customer delight.

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In any successful business which believes in building strong customer base, continued innovations and quality delivered the first time shall try to abide by the following equation.


              (PRICE+VALUE)                      __              (COST+RISK)                           =               PROFIT

         Customer’s receivable

        Manufacturer’s deliverable

Business gain(revenue and loyalty)


The Price a consumer is willing to pay and the value expected out of it should be higher than the cost for creating a product/service and the risk involved in innovations/improvements. In order to attain good revenue and thereby make profits, an organization will ensure that the cost of quality, service and maintenance are lean in approach. In turn, the price for the product and the value received are seamless.


So how does an organization reach the economies of scale of increased production and decreased operational cost. It should identify the need and want of the customer. These requirements are to be weighed against the organizations capability of meeting the stakeholder’s interests, benchmark report, voice of employees and revenue model of the setup.


Voice of the Customer can be reactive( Sales report, Audits, Customer complaints)  or proactive ( Surveys, Focus groups, Interviews). House of Quality, Affinity diagrams and Pugh matrix are the popular ones used to convert these “voices” to “scope”. Critical to Quality is then realized though metrics for control and improvement of the deliverable.


VOC is significant when the organization 

  • identified its problems and wanted to check it against the customer’s response ( Sales drop and CSAT feedbacks)
  • wanted to adopt DMAIC roadmap in improving the processes by identifying the problem area.
  • Benchmark report on potential scope in a market for certain product /service. ( Faster laptops for gaming or better treatment of a condition)
  • try using Kano's model and exceed expectation/improvise the need.

VOC can be ineffective when the organisation

  • Jumps in for the market share without analysis of the risk for both short and long term sustenance( two wheeler's manufacturer's risk venturing in four wheeler segment)
  • emphasizes more on the revenue and ignores voice of employee, voice of business and voice of process ( seeking more business from offshore client without training of the staff, value streaming the process and ignored profit sharing )
  • takes up the pressure from the market for discoveries and innovation contributing compromised product/service ( Pharma companies pushing the drugs through the phases with incomplete and inconclusive clinical trials.) 
  • has poor leadership, structure and standardization with fundamental flaws in managing business and data collection ( poll results and elected representatives of a bad government).










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Definition of VOC:  is the customer's voice, expectations, preferences, comments, of a product or service in discussion. It is the statement made by the customer on a particular product or service.

In sixSigma VOC falls in the  Define Phase in the DMAIC methodology. Hence , It is definitely the key starting point for successful business process.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”Bill Gates, Microsoft

“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers”Ross Perot, American businessman

Thoughts coming from business tycoons like Bill gates and Ross Perot put forth that a negative feedback from a customer can actually provides a business the purpose for corrective and preventive activities that ensure that the Quality of product or service is at its best possible standards , and it is a best practice to be in touch with the customers to understand what is happening at the last mile of business – The moment of truth!!

In today’s market where the pace of commoditization of products and services is only incremental , every other day, Customer good will is the best differentiator .Leading Business houses harness customer feedback data, from different sources and combine it with available text analytics Engines . The idea is to convert the VOC into intelligence for evidence-based actions to drive customer experience and strategic change in the business processes.

However, it is also observed that may businesses are far too focussed on the VOC ,but fail to take appropriate action to resolve opportunities of concerns or evolve the actions that have been appreciated by customers.

With experience in the QSR industry,I always forbid two activities – one is Marketing an offer promotion & the other is  VOC, if there is a slightest doubt, in mind, about the operational capacity, preparedness or ability to handle the outcome or resultant of the activity.

Marketing activity brings about increased footfalls which can lead to drop in operational levels if the readiness (internal communication, training, resource planning, promotional inventory etc.)is not worked upon. Thus we end up causing more inconvenience to customer than the value intended to be provided by marketing an offer promotion- resulting in bad customer experience and an ensuing hit to business.

Similarly, in the case of VOC, we must remember that by human nature, people like to give feedback, when asked for. They like to be heard as it makes them feel important as individuals and they also feel that their feedback is valued. Post this, it is of utmost importance to demonstrate to the customer that the value they received is equally as critical as delivering that value, by showing the action on their feedback. Most organizations fail to do that, in spite of “overemphasis on VOC”. They thereby do injustice to the VOC process and to their own organization because of many reasons including:

-          Too Much focus on VOC ,but Improper approach of the VOC process- Not done effectively.

-          Unable to assess internal culture- inspite of the marketing rhetoric and the self-proclamation of being customer – centric, Fail to inculcate a customer centric culture and are not able to assess and correct that- They remain product centric as always. In a situation like this , though the VOC may put forth the opportunities, due to frequent failure to meet the expectation at the final service point, the customers are put off with the whole VOC programme and feel that the customer feedback programme is a farce.

-          No connect with the Top Management- The process of VOC remains a “for the sake of it” exercise- NVA.

-          Lack of proficiency in the VOC Lead- A resource with strong interdepartmental relationship and analytical skill  is required as data resides in multiple systems in an organisation.

-          Business culture not linked with customer preference- The organisation is not able to compose the right mix of culture, people, processes and technology in a coordinated effort to consistently delight their customers

-          Gravely designed Processes- Which are unable to cope up with the flow of inputs from the VOC programme.

-          Unable to segment Customers- The data received from the VOC is not segmented properly on KPIs like RFM(Recency,Frequency,Monetory), Loyalty Programme, Social behaviours etc.

-          Too Many VOC tools - Just adds to Confusion and waste of labor and time on analysis, most of the time resulting in evasion of the process for other priorities.

-          Dependence on manual work to analyse data- Poorest approach- one must use as much technology as possible to analyse and measure impact.

-          Inability to engage customers and collate relevant data- not able to execute an engrossing touch point system(SMS, Emails, Comment cards, Social media etc) to gather feedback in a pattern that helps to collate a holistic view.

-          Inability to measure Results- There is absolute failure in showing payback to sustain the VOC programme. Hence the programme in the execution level gets diluted.

-          Inability to adapt to the market trends hence dilution of the process – some businesses have the tendency to stick  to old methods/techniques/ approaches that are redundant – one has to keep in mind that customers/markets evolve, and customers choice and preference changes and the VOC is a journey.

Thus, though the organisation “wants” to focus on VOC , due to nonconformities in approach as mentioned above there is an inverse effect as the whole exercise ends up as an NVA and adds to undue costs, which is unfavourable to business .

Another reason that causes a detrimental impact on business is the inability to act on the information gathered through VOC. As aforementioned, It could be because of operational capacity or basic communication and /or training lapse at the last service point. Also there’s a definite correlation between how quickly the action is taken and how satisfied the customer is that the company is really listening. Failing to act on the customer’s input can cause real infuriation. The customer will resent that though their time was consumed while providing feedback, their feedback was not given the due importance. Thus a catalyst for bad mouthing the brand /service/ product is imminent, which is no good for business. There is nothing worse than asking for input and then seemingly ignoring it.

Thus overemphasis on VOC and inefficiency in acting upon it can cause undue harm to business.

Evidently, It is very important to close the loop by letting customers who have given feedback know what action has been taken , based on their feedback- If one does not have time  or and resource to review and act on the feedback- DON’T ASK FOR IT!!!!!

A Good example of  “closing the loop” is the recent advertisement on Television by an MNC Pizza company. The company is known for it’s exiting customer engagement programmes and VOC processes. The ad campaign shows how the company has recently acted upon the generalized feedback on products Quality and variety, and thus gives due importance to the customer!!! A strategy to win over the customers who have given an opportunity to improve, by providing feedback, rather than just silently switching over to the competition!!!!!!



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Ooops !! That’s a Twister …For a hardcore VOC proponent like me, it’s gonna need some serious thinking…Lets see…

To me VOC is always a Gold Mine. But, thinking of the detrimental side of Overemphasis on VOC, I can only think of the situations where the Seller/Service provider misses in clearly identifying his Target Segment of customer and goes about trying to listen to “every” customer/guest and keeps altering the product/service offering.

In doing this, the seller ends up confusing the buyers and eventually losing out on buyer patronage/preference. The lesson being : Never try to be Everything to Everyone !!


Even in situations where we have a successful product/service offering, implementing changes/improvements in line with user VOC sometimes may involve significant cost input/ design alteration, thereby resulting in altering the Product / Service Offering's market perception.


As long as the Seller has a “Well Identified Target Base” and the Offering meets those customers' expectations, I do not see overemphasis hurting !!

Will look forward to some good examples from the other side...

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Voice Of Customer may fail to be useful if we do not understand need and importance of the same. Its just not enough to collect too much of customer feedback and try to fit them in to the design of product without focusing on incorporating the changes in to the processes involved. Also other challenge is translation of actual expectation of customer in to customer delivery without losing out on original expectation is another road block.

One of the example of VOC becoming detrimental, is likelihood of customer feedback coming from the areas of their familiarity, and not being holistic in nature, this may lead to building in wastes in the system. Good example on working at high leve and designing product without focusing on systemic change is Kodak company which though innovated in to digital cameras good not gain out of it as they did not have needed business model for the same.

Another good example is when customer demands for the solution we may have look deep in to the need and design the solution that will help build customer delight.


Good example is in this article referred below, which gives example about the company demand on windows cleaning services, where their expectation was on quality of cleaning and time of cleaning beyond office hours, with the need of making sure that the good amount of light enters the work space providing good work environment. While many cleaning service companies have been using such customer feedback to improve their offerings, another company has virtually succeeded in eliminating or minimizing the need to clean glass windows. Providing a clear view of the outside and allowing sunlight into the room without the need for cleaning the window regularly. By taking inspiration from nature, Pilkington Glass created a “self-cleaning glass” with potential to disrupt the window cleaning industry. After studying lotus leaves, which have a microstructure that repels water droplets and allows those droplets to pick up dirt particles, Pilkington developed a photo catalytic and hydrophilic coating for the external glass pane of windows, enabling the self-cleaning process.

Reference: https://www.leanmethods.com/resources/articles/fallacy-voice-customer

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VOC is usually considered sacrosanct. After all, customer is the reason why we are in business. However, there are times, when we need to be firm with customers, even at the risk of temporary displeasure and lower customer satisfaction scores. 

One common example from the IT industry is the customer expectation of immediate turnaround of change requests. Irrespective of how late in the day the CR has been raised, it is always expected that it should go into the next release. Many vendors bend over backward to accommodate these requests and crush their employees with impossible deadlines, at the risk of not performing the necessary impact analysis and finally releasing unstable code into production. Mature companies would push their customers back insisting on proper time frames to follow the necessary processes so that only good quality, stable code is released.

Customers are not born mature, they become mature over time. Thus many customers may be at lower stages of maturity than the vendor. In such cases, it is the duty of the vendor to invest in educating the customer and raising their maturity level for the long term benefit of the relationship. Even if the customer initially sees it as bureaucratic, persistent education will lead them to realize the value of what the vendor is proposing. On the other hand, if the vendor gives in to the demands and ends up with production issues, the customer will end up being more unhappy than if the request was denied in the first place.

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The Voice of Customer is the process for capturing customer- related information. This process is proactive and continuously innovative to capture stated, unstated, and anticipated customer requirements, needs and desires. 


A mistake occurred on a small scale is acceptable by the customer.

There are situations which aren't acceptable and are detrimental to the business. They are:

  • Long waiting time. 
  • Long response time.
  • Poor attention.
  • Lack of orientation about the company.
  • Unprofessional and impersonal interactions.

For Example: Services generated in the hospital.

Waiting for room allotment.

Lack of timely response from nursing staff.


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VOC:- Voice of customer.


VOC is the customer’s expectation/needs from a particular product/process.

Customers can be internal/external.

Case study:-

Product:- ABC of 1 Kg pack size


Customer specification:-

1.       Nett weight:- 1 Kg +/- 10%.

USL :- 1100gms

LSL:- 900 gm

2.       Piece weight  20 gms( +/- 2gms).

3.       Piece count:-  47 to 53 in 1KG.

It was observed that we were processing, such that each piece weight came about 18 gms. So customer was getting 56 pieces in each bag. We were within limits of VOC.

Our internal customer said that we are running at a piece weight of 18 gms which is our LSL, so it should be increased.

After completion of project, weight of each piece was maintained at 20 gms, and in each pack of 1 kg we were getting 50 pieces.

Product was completely under specification. But we started getting complains, because the piece count decreased from 56 to 50. Customer was getting 6 pieces of product less in each pack.

Customer was not happy to see this change, though we were following the specification given by customer.


Thus overemphasis on VOC might cost our business in some cases.

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Yes, we need to ensure below points are considered while taking VOC.


1. Identifying all relevant customer groups

Identify your customers

This includes identifying internal groups who have insight into the bill-paying customer. This was illustrated in a Life Insurance retention project that gathered Voice of the Customer from current and former policyholders; VOC missed a key component; namely, whether customers were given alternatives to help decrease premium payments. This was only identified much later in the project, through involvement of Call Center representatives during the Improve phase.

How to avoid: In addition to providing process flow information, the SIPOC (Suppliers, Input, Process, Output, and Customers – see below for diagram) can help you identify customer groups you might otherwise forget. In a SIPOC, the customer is defined as any person or group who receives the output from a process step. A good example comes from a project that identified Agents as a customer group for the Endorsement process, where bill-paying customers request changes to their insurance coverage. After analyzing external customer data, a sample of ‘best practice’ Agents were interviewed. This served as a key source of recommendations to implement across all Agencies.



voice of the customer soipc template

SIPOC template

2. Clarifying goals of the data collection step upfront

What do you want to know?

One common mistake is to focus too much on the outcome, and not enough on factors that may influence that outcome. This can result in Voice of the Customer data that doesn’t provide enough detail around these input factors, which are often the keys to identifying potential improvements. This is illustrated in a project focused on reduction of employee calls to the company service desk. One of the themes identified through VOC was lack of information available to employees to resolve issues on their own. Because there was not enough detail on what types of information employees needed, it was necessary to conduct an additional round of data collection.

3. Using the correct data collection method for the type of information you need

Choose your collection methods wisely

There are a variety of data collection methods to choose from, including: surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and user testing/observation. One of the most frequent mistakes at this stage is over-reliance on surveys; although interviews and focus groups are more labor-intensive than surveys, they are generally much more effective in gathering detailed qualitative information that can help lead to improvement.

How to avoid: Understand the pros and cons of each method, and consider the use of multiple data collection methods. Often, phone interviews and on-line focus groups can provide a good balance between need for efficiency and need for detailed Voice of the Customer data. You should also use the goals identified in the previous step to help guide your choice of which method(s) to use.

4: Doing the work of translating customer statements to Critical-to-Quality characteristics (CTQs):

It’s imperative to operationalize customer CTQs, because this is what feeds into subsequent phases such as gathering baseline measures, identifying root causes, and developing Control Plan metrics. Many times, initial verbatim comments are not themselves specific or actionable enough. For example, suppose a customer says he/she wants “good customer service”: what does this really mean? You need to either probe the customer on what he/she means, or translate this statement in some other way, such as brainstorming with your project team.

How to avoid: You can use a tool such as the CTQ tree to translate customer input into CTQs. In using a CTQ tree, you keep asking the question: “What does that mean?” until you reach the proper level. This approach can either be used directly during the VOC data collection, or after the fact as a team brainstorming tool. The example below shows how you can get from a generic statement (“Good customer service”) to more specific CTQs.


voice of the customer CTQ Tree Example

CTQ Tree example


By looking at Voice of the Customer as a process and by taking advantage of the tools available in the Six Sigma toolkit, you can gather the right information from the right people using the right method. This will lead to objective CTQ measures that will serve as critical input throughout the DMAIC phases, which in turn will allow you to achieve maximum results.

Let the voice of the customer (VOC) drive your process improvements, and other key areas of your business. Your main business goal after all, is to go beyond your customer’s expectations.

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In the competitive world sustaining with business is one of tough task. to sustain the all products needs to review periodically with respect to customer expectation. To understandd customer expectation /requirements we need to go to market research. VOC is one of the technique help to understand customer needs. Post completing the VOC, categorise and prioritise the requirements and implement the changes in the products and release the products


Studies shown that the maintain the positive customer experience can help tangible return on investment. These VOC helps to improve the process, effective employee engagement, cost reductions etc.


The VOC can be captured in various forms like internet search database, feedback form, customer complaints , historical complaints.

VOC also can go wrong if we are not identified right people to capture feedback. Customer requirement always changing time to time. sometimes customer may not give right feedback and its very difficult to judge whether the feedback is genuine.

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Voice of Customer is a key starting point for a six sigma project in the journey towards business excellence. It is aimed at understanding the explicit and implicit requirements of the internal or external customers. These are then translated into Critical to Quality requirements. 


Listening to the voice of customer helps us in:

1. Configuring the features in our products to meet customer requirements

2. Improve the efficiency in operations by doing away with unwanted features

3. Improve customer experience 

4. Get ideas to improve our products or services



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The Voice of customer (VOC) is the starting point of any project and data collection plan.


How the Voice of customer is collected is also crucial for business to take it forward. Following are the few questions to be asked before collection of VOC


1. What are the elements of your business that are the most critical, from the perspective of your top or best customers? what are their relevant needs?

2. What data has been collected to understand the customer requirements?

3. How do you operationally define the defect from the perspective of the customer? under what conditions does it occur?


Determining customer requirements:

1. Review customer comments and comparitive data

2. convert into terms of process performance

3. Describe actual customer requirements - write the requirements, use measurable terms, identify performance targets.


Can  overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business? Explain with examples


I can say obviously yes, overemphasis on VOC be determental to business. Below are some examples for this statement


1. Especially in Healthcare field, VOC is collected to a product of huge sales. VOC results shows that if the type of packing for medicine is an issue that the patient is unable to see the product clearly out because of amber colour blister packing/aluminium foil packing. By considering the VOC company cannot change the packing because it will effect the stability of product. It will impact the potency of medicine and also hits the business to huge loss. So, VOC should be considered where the quality of product is not effecting its potency.


2. This example is also from healthcare industry, One product which is used for Diabetes getting repeated complaints because of the big size of tablet. By considering the large number of complaints we cannot alter the quantity of drug to be required by the body for one single dose. And also the patients who require lesser dose can take the half tablet directly because of its bigger shape. The formulation type is also extended release, which patient can manage whole day with single tablet dose. In such a way company is managing single dosage of tablet in place of two varieties of dosageforms. Which saves huge to the company.



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In any initiative, any over-emphasis on any aspect of business is bound to hurt business at some point of time. Voice-of-customer is no exception. The advantages of VOC cannot be over-emphasized and still remains a most effective method of getting customer feedback, both to identify opportunities for improvement and also to confirm the effectiveness of improvements implemented.


Nowadays, VOC is used not just by Suppliers but also by Customers themselves. Many of these customers may be themselves using VOC to feel the pulse of their customers and know how a response to a VOC survey would be interpreted. Therefore, the Customer can sometimes tend to be manipulative in the response to a VOC. One of the main reasons for this is to proactively snuff out any possibility of rate or price increase request from the supplier, if the customer were to accept total satisfaction with the Supplier's performance. In such situations, using VOC in the usual way may not be ineffective and worse still get the Supplier to focus on incorrect priorities and waste resources in solving non-existent problems.


In conclusion, if it is observed that a customer is not quite transparent in feedback, VOC can be used as a dipstick, but major decisions including judging the successes of projects need not be based only on VOC.

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Overemphasis on VOC can be detrimental to business, it depends on how organization approaches to VOC and how effectively they convert it to VOP. Organizations that recognize the importance of customers and focus on their wants and needs are commonly known as customer focused or customer driven. 

In contrast to natural process limits, specification limits are customer determined or derived from customer requirements and are used to define acceptable levels of process performance. Said to be the 'Voice of customer", specification limits may be one sided or two sided. The difference between them is known as tolerance.

In soem cases, customers provide specifications for products or services explicitly. This is often the situation when customer is the defense department or any of the military branches.In others, customers express requirements in value terms, the components that influence the buy decision, such as price, product quality, innovation, service quality, company image, & reputation. In still other cases, customers may spotlight only their needs or wants, thus leaving it upto the company to translate them into internal specifications. tools such as quality function deployment, critical to quality analysis & so on often help with the last two situations. for example a customer wants that if he stuck in road traffic jam, then car should have features like that it should be able to fly in air and cross the road traffic jam but a car manufacturing company can not give this feature in the same price of car and due to some other regulatory requirements. So it will be detrimental to business to work on this idea to provide a cheap car which can fly and run on road. 

When the voice of customer is fully understood and connected to products and services, the products and services can, in turn, be connected to the process that produce them. Unfortunately many organizations collect the VOC and can not relate it back to the underlying processes. This constitute a major disconnect and presents a serious situation for the organization to overcome. Notice that customer requirements are integral to the development of the strategic plan, improvement takes place at the individual process level, and we must address the basic question as to whether or not these processes are capable of meeting customer and business requirements.

Voice of the customer data are essential to the long term success of an organization. Although collecting such data is critical, it is not sufficient. It must be analysed, disseminated, and acted on in a systematic manner. This will only occur when processes have been enacted to ensure that it will happen in a consistent manner.




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Question: While VOC is considered as a key starting point for business excellence, can overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business? Explain with examples. 


VOC – voice of the customer is defined as customer’s voices/ desires, wishes, expectations, requirements / needs of the output that can be either a product / service. It is always a verbatim comments.


Who is a customer?

A customer is the one who buys ur service / product and willing to pay for whiling receiving the product / service.

Customer is of two types. Internal / external

Internal Customer – A person who wants a specific output working within an organization.

External Customer – A person who wants a output works outside of an organization.


A customer needs will be translated into requirements in six sigma language.




There are 3 confusing statements – need, wants and requirements., where the Six sigma person has to be aware of these terminologies so as to drive the needs to CTQ to delight the customer in the innovative technological world.




An additional features which might excite the customer about the product. Additional/ free bies.

A clear stated and unstated expectations of the customer on the product / service.

A must of the product / service, that is mandatorily required to fulfil the needs of the customer.

A customer would disappoint if the additional feature is not there., but still they use the product.

If needs are not satisfied, the customer is highly dissatisfied and move to the competitiors.

If requirements of the customer is not met, the product fails In the market by word of mouth itself, where the customer doesn't even enquire about it.

Eg. A customer wants to know her condition, since aged.
Hence wants a BP, Sugar & Hormone checkup.

Hospital personnel analyses her condition recommends special cardiac package for her wellbeing along with the master health check up.

Basic package like BP, sugar and thyroid hormone test might satisfy the customer but cardiac package will delight them.

A customer wants a trainer to be friendly and conceptual to explain the level the trainee understands.

A friendly knowledgeable trainer to make the trainees understand all the concepts taught.

Accuracy of the training content, Quality of the trainer and cost effective.


Capturing VOC:

It can be captured in many ways like as follows:

1.       Surveys

2.       Focus group

3.       Brainstorming / direct discussion with the customer / client

4.       Inetrviews

5.       Field reports / obsservations & Suggestions.

6.       Warranty cards / complaint logs


As customer is of two types internal and external, VOC is also classified as

1.       Voice of the Associate – Employee’s suggestions/ feedbacks on the product / service processed.

2.       Voice of Business – It deals primarily the needs of the business and its respective stakeholders. E.g. Revenue, profit, loss, etc.

3.       Voice of the customer – It talks about the clients / end customers.

4.       Voice of the process – the analysis results obtained out of the process capability studies and CTQ’ analysis.


can overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business? Explain with examples. 


When the VOC is harmful to business?

Description - Example

How to avoid?

When VOC is failed to identify the right customer, it would require the project team / organization to intervene in middle of DMAIC phases.  It would result in additional time , manpower and cost.

Life Insurance retention project that gathered VOC from current and former policyholders; VOC missed a key component; namely, whether customers were given alternatives to help decrease premium payments. This was only identified much later in the project, through involvement of Call Center representatives during the Improve phase.

A SIPOC diagram will help u identify the supplier, customer and the process steps at a higher level.
Eg. In the example mentioned, agents were identified as customer, survey taken and changes would be considered by insurance parties. This best practice was implemented across other parties.

When VOC fails to clearly define the goals of the data collection upfront.
To much of focus on to the outcome instead of on the factors(X) would result in a different direction of the project.

Eg. project focused on reduction of employee calls to the company service desk. One of the themes identified through VOC was lack of information available to employees to resolve issues on their own. Because there was not enough detail on what types of information employees needed, it was necessary to conduct an additional round of data collection.

List all potential X.
Create a plan towards data collection of all the critical X
Focus on the group to collect the critical X

When VOC directs the data collection methods wrongly.
Over emphasis on the data collection methods like surveys, etc will lead the project in wrong direction if this is the one and only method of data collection. Solution can't be derived from this method since the data collected can be wrong.

Eg. Project focused on the Knowledge, attitude and belief of the youngsters on HIV/ AIDS. The survey was method used to collect the data. Relying on this and deriving at a solution of creating awareness may be a additional cost, time and resource involved. This might be eliminated if a focus group / one to one interview technique was used.

Understanding the pros and con, the right method of data collection tool to be identified and deployed in the project.

When VOC is not converted into CTQ
Because the verbatims are not clear from the customer, the needs are not stated properly and converted into CTQ. It will then lead to wrong data collection, baselining, analysis and solution identification and implementation.

Eg. A customer says " I don't like your service". This does not lead to a actionable CTQ. Further a project team to drill down by talking to customer what it really means. If the team is not known of the customer needs, the customer will never be satisfied by the organisation.

Understand the customer first what the need is, want is and requirements are.




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VOC or voice of customer is the key to start a new business. Voice of customer is nothing but the requirement of the customer, the need and expectations of customer. 

Customer is the one who buys and uses the product and services. He/she recieves the end product of the process. 

Customer can be devided into two categories 

Internal customer 

External customer.


Internal customers are basically from within the organization or the cross functional departments.

External customers are not related to the organization.  They recieves the final output.


Meeting all the customer requirements gives a high customer satisfaction score and it is good for the growth of business.

However overaemphasizing on VOC sometimes let the business go down.


Voice of process is also another factor related to VOC. If our VOP is more than the VOC it creates a lot of trouble in meeting the requirements. 

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Is in simple terms the expectations of the customer or expectations from customer.

But conditions apply **


VOC can be or has to be the starting point for business excellence. But over emphasising VOC can be detrimental. 


I feel It is important to note that VOC has two angles to it. One VOC individual, VOC entity/corporate/business.


if it is the VOICE from customer individual, then it is subjective to the mood, emotions, situation etc.. hence fully dependent on VOC in this case may not be effective.


If it the VOICE from the entity as Customer,  then also it could be detrimental.


why and How

VOC is not necessarily always be expressed completely or expressed exactly as it is required. 


for example:-

The VOC from a mat manufacturer is to reduce the number of defectives so that profitability increases by certain percentage.

Now with this how it can be detrimental, 

In this case, to reduce the number of defectives and to increase profitability, the business excellence team can look into relevant areas few of them could be such as raw materials, workers involvement, quality control and etc... 

now by focusing on that, it could use several solutions like using a different chemical formula or generator sets for avoiding stoppage of production during power cuts, but by doing this it could be harmful to the environment or people living around. 


This is my view.


VOC can be input, but VOC must be considering all affecting factors directly or indirectly to external factors as well. 


Advertising is another example where advertising using celebrities for a soft drink is the solution found from a business excellence team to increase sales, but by doing this we are fooling common people making them drink the harmful drink.

which is what is happening in real life.



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Yes, I agree with this point, in last few years we have heard so many example from India's two big e-commerce retailers.


Example 1:  Ms X ordered online a nice clothes for her. She attented marriage ceremony with that dress. Then she returned it, as it was not exact color it was showing in website. And she took refund of the same.


The above example is happening very frequently.... Some time wirh dress, some time with shoes, some time with mobile or mobile cover for show or sometime to maintain a status quo. 


It is not that all customers are doing this kind of thing but some/few are doing these. 


2. Some time customer over reacted too. They are raising voice for anything abd everything.


3. Sometime customers even do partiality.


4. Even now a days we have fake customers - we all might know this, one retailer was ordering from another retailer's site and then was not receiving the order or at the last moment was canceling the order. And was raising voice on social media. As a result the 2nd retailer stops taking order from certain region above a specific amount of money or in "cash on delivery" option.


In all above situation it incur some cost to company - which is actually loss to the company's balance sheet.


Our world has become very much dynamic, we have act very wisely to handle this. VOC is one of the best tool we have but it is also getting misused.



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VOC is as important to satisfy customer thereby enhancing the business excellence provided the secondary metrics are not adversely affected just focusing on the primary metric alone.

Primary metric is the output of the process that we can measure which if we improve will led to greater customer satisfaction. Whereas secondary metric are that we need to track to ensure that we are not adversely affecting the process by just focussing on the primary metric alone.

Can  overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business? Explain with examples. 

Yes. Overemphasize on VOC can be detrimental to business.

Example:- In our company a project was carried out as "one day prior delivery". To achieve one day prior delivery of the product to customer , production was run in overtime thereby increasing the utility and man power cost. Here only customer satisfaction was considered (primary metric) but secondary metric was disturbed.(manufacturing cost).

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VOC is key starting point.. This has to get converted to CTQ..


Some of key mistakes in VOC are


1. Not converting voc to proper ctq

2. Not providing enough detail to the factors affecting the issue, instead getting only statement on the issue from customer


Need to spend good amount of time in arriving ctq and the relevant factors & more details around that - to make further study and bring out right inference.

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Voice of the Customer studies typically consist of both qualitative and quantitative research steps. They are generally conducted at the start of any new product, process, or service design initiative in order to better understand the customer's wants and needs.
But this is also true that overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business.

We have a diverse customer base, and if a client approaches us with a suggestion that hasn’t worked or won’t work for our other clients, we don’t take the bait. If we make changes for that client then there is possibility that we dissatisfy others and hence loss in business.

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Voice of Customer (VOC) is a description in the customer's own words about a product or service, regarding

  • the need/requirement/importance
  • the cost to benefit appeal
  • performance Vs expectations.

In other words, it is a customer feedback that communicates to the product/service provider “what value the customer is willing to pay for. It is one of the main factors that drive continuous improvement initiatives.

Listening to VOC helps in:

  • Tailoring the product and services to customer’s need. It enables focusing and improving items/aspects of the products/services which current and future customers care about most.
  • Identifying gaps in the services provided to the customer
  • Identifying potential improvement opportunities and the associated priorities from a customer viewpoint
  • Identifying and decommissioning services that are of little or no value to current or future customers
  • Getting in-depth insight into the psychographic dimensions of the target customers.
  • Designing advertisements and other promotions that communicate those aspects of products and services that are most important to customers
  • Developing the right pricing strategy so that customers feel they are getting value for the price they are paying.


Can overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business?


Though VOC is critical, I do feel that overemphasis on VOC can be detrimental to the businesses that are mainly working in cutting edge innovation and in the service industry.


VOC cannot drive the creation of breakthrough innovative products, like the iPod or the first car.

        Steve jobs words – “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.”


        Henry Ford’s famous words - “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

underlines this fact.


Customer’s feedback will mostly consist of the current ideas prevalent in the market and what the other popular companies are doing. The business cannot trust them to tell what the next new product should be. An "overemphasis on VOC" mindset would limit a company’s creativity.


Once a product is developed and introduced, then VOC becomes critical for its sustainability. At the end of the day, a business (product/service) cannot exist without satisfied customers. Only if a business hears the customer’s voice, can it work towards satisfying them and creating a brand loyalty.


Also, no matter what ever efforts a business might take to strengthen its Customer survey methodology, sometimes customers are may lie in their responses.


So, a product oriented business needs to understand WHEN TO and WHEN NOT TO listen to VOC and how much to rely on it.

VOC should take a backseat when cutting edge innovation is the primary objective.


In the service Industry, the two aspects of VOC that a business should be careful about is the price negotiations and scope of project.


For any project, the business should strategically plan the costing and decide on a firm rock bottom value. If the customer tries to negotiate below that price, then the sales team should either convince them or politely decline. If the sales team accepts the price, the customer wants because of an overemphasis of VOC mindset, then the execution of the project could greatly suffer and the business might make losses.


Similarly, in many cases, the customers keep adding on to the scope once the project starts. The service provider should keep track of the scope and decide objectively what changes/additions can be accommodated and what cannot, what can be done free of cost and for what change orders need to be issued. An overemphasis on VOC mindset could result in accepting all that the customer wants and could result in never ending projects and demotivated teams because of the scope creep.

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VOC: Voice of the Customer is one of the powerful techniques/tools used to capture the stated and unstated needs of the customer/project stakeholder(s). 


Let us see how the merits and demerits of gathering VOC and its impact       




1. Many ways to gather data – Focus groups, Interviews, Surveys, Questionairre, Complaint Log,...
2. Can be used in conjunction with Voice of Business (VoB), Cost of Poor Quality to generate Six Sigma Project ideas
3. Can be used to translate this information to Critical Customer Requirements (CCR), which is measurable with a target and an agreed range.
4. Then CCR (which is at a higher level) will be converted into CTQ.



Voice of Customer :


IT Programme Director (Customer)

Rajesh R


Complaint Log


Search Results on the web application taking too long


Search Results to be displayed in ~3-5 seconds


Response Time




1. Too many stakeholders might have their views to be represented in the project. Sometimes

     this may digress the probable needs of the project
2. Identifying the key and right stakeholders for the project is a must. If not done properly or \   

     overlooked, this will be a problem as we might miss out the right needs of right stakeholders
3. If we do not have the needs segregated with a classification of Must Needs, Satisfactory

     Needs (say a KANO model applied on top of the VOC data & doing data affinity) , then it

     becomes cumbersome and inadvertently there is a chance for the project to miss some 


Eg:  Let us take a hypothetical case.

Voice of Customer :


Non Functional Test(NFT) Manager (Customer)

Ramesh R


One-to-One interview


-          UI view alignment for the web application should be same across  browsers, mobile platforms

-          Application to be scalable without any performance degradation when crossing 1000 persons




Now assume that this non functional testing manager is a key stakeholder. But more often than not, people tend to focus on all needs other than NFT needs [In general, its missed more in waterfall model than in Agile model. But still in Agile, this NFT needs may be parked in the final sprints].


Now when the project was developed and delivered in iterative fashion, this need was not delivered. This was overlooked because there were so many functional needs and this was missed out inadvertently.  So this resulted in that key customer getting dissatisfied. This could have been avoided if we had rightly grasped the stakeholders’ needs properly.



Even though VOC helps in knowing the customer needs, but as aforementioned , too much of data gathered through VOC techniques, might impact negatively and can even lead to key stakeholder (read customer) dissatisfaction.

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Is overemphasis on VOC be detrimental to business?

Voice Of Customer (VOC):

VOC is a term used in business to describe the detailed process of capturing customer's expectations, preferences and dislikes.


Different mode of collecting VOC:

There are several modes of collecting VOC. Most famous method are:

  • SURVEYS: A method of gathering information from a sample representing the population. These are comprehensive data driven information vehicles that are useful in capturing customer requirements as well as measuring performance against those requirements.

  • FOCUS GROUPS: In this you group together similar customers and ask for their opinion on the requirements as well as performance against those requirements.

  • INTERVIEWS: could be informal or Structured. Informal interviews give good insight into the customer perspective of the product and services and depends on probing open ended questions.

  • FEEDBACK: the customer feedback comes through direct and different channels.

    • Internal: employee feedback

    • External: reports from known sources

  • COMPLAINTS: The customer complaints or escalations to the business head about their dissatisfaction regarding not meeting their business requirements


Purpose of VOC:

The main purpose of collecting VOC by adopting different modes is to understand what is customer actual business requirement/expectation and to gage whether are we meeting this requirement/expectation (i.e. to see are we providing best in class service/quality).


Risk in overemphasis on VOC:

Some time there are few risk in overemphasis on VOC. This can be easily understood by below real-time example which I experienced during one of the continuous improvement project in F&A.


Line of business: Finance & Accounts:

This customer has outsourced the end to end F&A business to one of the highly reputed BPO where I worked



The voice of customer we received during C-SAT survey was “I am highly dissatisfied with the accounts payable team as team is not paying the invoice on time”



No delay in paying the invoice to the end customer. In other words; “Invoice pay date must not exceed vendor pay term from the date of generation of invoice” e.g.

If vendor pay term is 60 days and if invoice is generated on 1st of Jan 2018; then invoice payment date must not exceed 1st of March 2018


Action taken to address this customer issue:

As this was the direct feedback got from strategic customer during C-SAT survey, operations team started tracking the instance where the overdue payment was happening to the end customer.

During this study, operation team realized that overdue payment is happening only because of the unique pay cycle which is agreed with one of the customers bank by our customer for few end customers. That is, this specific bank will pay every Wednesday of a week. So, any invoice which is due on Thursday will be paid on next Wednesday due to this pay cycle. e.g.

To explain with above situation, If vendor pay term is 60 days and if invoice is generated on 1st of Jan 2018; then invoice payment date was 1st of March 2018 (i.e. Thursday). So, this invoice will be paid on 7th March 2018

Due to urgency in mitigating the customers concern or because of overemphasis on customer feedback, operations team started setting the pay day one week earlier in customer application for those specific end customers who are paid through this bank e.g.

If vendor pay term is 60 days and if invoice is generated on 1st of Jan 2018; then make invoice payment date as 60 – 7 i.e. 53. So, this will be due on 23rd Feb 2018 but will be paid on 28th Feb 2018

 By doing this, for sure there won’t be any late or overdue payment


Challenges faced due to overemphasis on above VOC:

By doing this, the operations team have ensured that there won’t be any overdue payment, but the business risk what they have faced is that; team has started making early payment for those specific end customers e.g.

If vendor pay term is 60 days and if invoice is generated on 1st of Jan 2018; then make invoice payment date as 60 – 7 i.e. 53. So, this will be due on 23rd Feb 2018 but will be paid on 28th Feb 2018. So paid one day early than agreed pay date

And end up in a situation where they breached the pay term set by customer’s procurement team.



So, without going in to the details of what happened next. I would like to highlight that, there could be a situation where overemphasis on voice of customer can lead to business risk.

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We have the winning answer for this question. Thank you all for taking out the time to contribute to the World's Biggest Dictionary, during the festive season. The best answer is given by Venugopal R of Club 46. This answer clearly explains, with the help of examples,  where over emphasis on VOC could cause more harm to the business than benefits.


There were other answers that were close, but examples and articulation in your own words is always going to get some brownie points.


Cheers to excellence!

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