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Satisfy the Customer Within

Macro & Micro Voice of the Customer

Let’s talk about our customers, specifically, their voices. The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is where the customer provides feedback about our product or service. For example, they could tell us what they liked about our product or service or, in some cases, what they didn’t like. This information can come in various ways, such as direct feedback from the customer to your Customer Service or Sales teams. For example, have you ever gone to close an app or program and were asked for a rating of their service by a pop-up window? Getting feedback through surveys like those is a common way to keep up-to-date on what customers are looking for and how they feel about your product or service.

So far, we have been talking about the Macro VOC, which looks at what your company provides to satisfy the needs of the “outside” customer. Now we’re going to cover the Micro VOC, which looks deeper into the various process steps of your business and how those steps “service” each other, and how that services the bigger picture of your business’ Macro VOC.

We are now talking about satisfying the “inside” customer, the Micro VOC … aka your fellow operator who is next in the process. Micro VOC can apply to any business, but we’ll use a simple Widget packaging business as an example. Let’s say your business has three steps in its process:

Step 1: Assemble your Widget.

Step 2: Package your Widget.

Step 3: Ship your Widget.

After assembling your Widget, it’s passed to step two: Packaging. If you assemble a certain amount of Widgets during your shift, you’ll likely perform well based on your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Assuming Widgets produced is one of your KPIs. But what if when they moved on to Packaging, they were disorganized? When the Package team gets your assembled Widgets, it must reorganize them first, and then it can begin its Packaging step. If Packaging is graded by how many Widgets it can pack, then it will not do well due to the disorganized delivery condition from the Assembly step. If Step 2 is to be completed in time, Packaging might rush and deliver unsealed boxes to Shipping. Now Shipping must inspect visually and seal some of the products received from Packaging, which takes longer to ship the finished goods. Without considering the next step, the buck gets passed down the line. Without delivering on your Micro VOC, the departments become each other’s worst enemies.

Let’s look at how we can prevent this from going wrong. Each step in your business services the following step (their customer), and their customer is the next step in the process. Using the above Widget example, Assembling is the service, and Packaging is their customer who also services Shipping. Not only does Assembly have to focus on its success, but it also needs to focus on its effect on Packaging. We can achieve this by understanding what Packaging needs to be successful. If Packaging needs the Widget delivered in an organized tray to allow efficient boxing, then the Assembly step needs to provide it in such a way if possible. When this succeeds, they are satisfying the Micro customer.

How does this play out in the big picture – the Macro VOC? By guiding your process steps to service their Micro VOC, your process leads to everyone’s success. Now let’s tether it to your Macro VOC. In our Widget example, your Shipping department (step 3) is the last to handle the product before the customer, taking carriers (delivery services) out of the equation for simplicity. Shipping’s goal should be closest to matching the Macro VOC. If the customer is paying for the Widget to be delivered a certain way, then that is what Shipping is sending. From Shipping, we build backward from there. The Packaging department (step 2) wraps and secures the product in a proper container to satisfy the handoff to Shipping. Finally, let’s go further upstream – the Assembly department (step 1) should provide the Widgets to Packaging in a way that makes their boxing process efficient. Note – if the Micro VOC’s requirement results in the service step losing efficiency, then a decision will have to be made on which step’s requirement is impacted or if multiple steps are implicated.

Use internal customer evaluation (Micro VOC) to take you from your last step and go upstream to your first step. Once the Micro VOC is established throughout each of the steps of your business, you will create a unified process with each other’s success as their KPI and, ultimately, the business’s success by correctly responding to your Macro VOC.

Thanks for reading!

Rick V.


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