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Voice of the Customer Training

Uncover, Translate, Balance and Deliver what Customers Want

The Challenge

The notion that we should listen to “the voice of the customer” is well meaning, but an insult to our intelligence. Everyone knows there is no such thing as the customer. This necessarily means there must be more than one voice to listen to. Yet we can make potentially fatal assumptions about (1) who “the customers” really are, (2) what questions to ask, (3) how to prioritize their answers and (4) how to define and measure success. Traditional efforts such as used in product development, application of Six Sigma, ISO 9001 and related standards, VoC projects, Baldridge Criteria, HCAHPS, the Kano model and satisfaction surveys miss key questions every practitioner must answer.

You’d never tolerate multiple answers to the math problem, 7+5=X. We’ve had years of math training, but little or none in linguistics. The ambiguity of our language and weak linguistic discipline remains a largely untouched challenge. Consider the top auto executive who understood customers say they wanted more miles per tank of gas. Did this lead to (a) more efficient engines, (b) light weight materials, (c) innovative propulsion, (d) aerodynamic bodies or (e) bigger gas tanks? The executive’s design team rushed to market with bigger gas tanks. No kidding!


Our Voice of the Customer training shows how easy it is to confuse what you heard with what they said (not to mention what they wanted but didn’t say). Mistaking the literal voice of the customer with the untapped heart and mind of the customer is tragically common. This course supplies the needed rigor. You’ll see how both improvement and innovation opportunities become unavoidably obvious.

The firm that lost a $400 billion contract (that’s right, with a “b”), referenced in this presentation, is simply one more scenario of what can go wrong when interpreting customer priorities. On the other hand, examples from government, healthcare and such recognizable firms as Starbucks,, Southwest Airlines, Honda, Motorola and Google illustrate the growth potential possible by using the easy-to-understand but rigorous methodology described in this session.

Voice of the Customer Learning Objectives

Don’t even think about conducting a voice of the customer project, commissioning a customer survey or designing new services without the innovative framework and tools provided in this session. You’ll learn a refreshing new way to uncover and translate the mind of the customer in ways you never thought possible, including how to:

  • Create the strategic framework for your VoC initiative
  • Compare the 12 most common ways to collect customer needs (most of which fail)
  • Avoid the ten most frequent failures of satisfaction surveys
  • Determine who your customers really are in every context (both outside and within the enterprise)
  • Use the unique “word formulas” that always uncover priorities
  • Conduct a powerful, streamlined customer focus group session
  • Translate squishy perceptions into design requirements, objective measures, and innovative alternatives
  • Connect customer satisfaction, product design and growth
  • Assure VOC deployment internally across functional silos

Voice of the Customer Training Takeaways include

  • An easy to understand, step-by-step method for defining what your customers want
  • An Excellence Framework that balances customer and enterprise values
  • A jargon-free language that eliminates ambiguity
  • Tools to (a) differentiate 3 roles a customer can play in any context, (b) discover whether the customers with most power have it appropriately, (c) identify the priorities that are/aren’t measured, (d) translate subjective perceptions into objective measures and design criteria

Voice of the Customer Training Agenda

  • The practices most often used to understand customers
  • Why surveys fail and the essential keys to success (how one saved $1 million)
  • The four dimensions of excellence customers want satisfied
  • The specific steps to uncover customer priorities
  • “Word formulas” you didn’t learn in school, as powerful as mathematical equations
  • How to distinguish performance, perception and outcome expectations and why it matters
  • How to define service and knowledge work as concrete, tangible and measurable
  • The three roles a customer can play (that marketing research usually misses), and which one to focus on
  • Essential elements of a customer focus group
  • How to translate fuzzy perceptions into objective performance measures
  • Cases of how this methodology has resulted in better than 20-to-1 ROI

Course Description Download:

This class is definitely NOT for the faint-hearted! Mr. Lawton led us through an intensive, fast-paced presentation designed to reframe how we think about customer satisfaction and service. He encouraged each participant to continually challenge how we think about ‘products’ and our role in providing these to our real customers. He provided a very clear understanding of what a customer-centered culture is and how to create one.

Hazel Mays

Quality Manager, AT&T Global Business Communications Systems