Voice of the Customer

Posted on January 22, 2013 by


When we look at products or services being provided, we tend to overlook the activity that goes on behind the scenes to get that product to the customer. This activity includes the designer or engineer, production or distribution workers, and logistics network swhich can often include oversees travel. It creates what can be referred to as a supply chain disconnect – the customer has no concept of the workers and the workers have no concept of the end-user (final customer).

Employee activity is usually connected to the network and often lacks visibility to the end-user.  Activities are viewed in terms of SKU or processes and the customer focus tends to reflect the next step in the process.  Additionally, greater emphasis within the supply chain network is on achieving operational efficiency or key performance indicators (KPIs) to add value to the shareholders.  Such thinking blocks the employee’s view of the larger picture and prevents the employee from understanding the customer’s language.  As a result, customer orientation may not always be a high priority.

Organizations would do well to help their workers understand the customer’s language not just from the perspective of the next process but also from the perspective of the actual end-user, particularly when their role in the network may buffer them from actual end-user contact.  By helping workers understand, hear and visualize the final customer of their product or service, they are more likely to internalize quality related goals and values. Further, they are more likely to build the voice of the customer (requirements related to quality, value, availability and variety) into the product or service and the work becomes more personal as they empathize with the customer experience.