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This chapter is from the book

Impediments to the Voice-of-the-Customer Challenge

Sometimes—arguably, much of the time—obstacles get in the way of a team’s ability to truly listen to the voice of the customer. Perhaps every member of the team is intent on listening but the customer does not know what options are possible in the finished product and therefore does not describe them as requirements. I experienced just this when I looked into purchasing an automobile. I was unaware that satellite radio was an optional feature. If a salesperson had asked me for my exit criteria, I would not have known to include satellite radio. However, as soon as I knew that feature was available, I wanted it. A survey listing optional features would have helped.

Another obstacle might be that team members believe they already know absolutely and positively what the customer needs; therefore, they see no reason to listen to the customer. But listening could result in the team delivering a more satisfactory product.

A third all-too-common problem that demonstrates that team leaders and members are not really listening to the voice of the customer is that, deep down inside, they consider the team’s mission to be customer-independent. Unbelievable as it may seem, many teams receive missions that do not include customer satisfaction. A team’s mission may be to select a software accounting system for the customer, which is very different from developing an accounting system for use by a specific individual or department. If this team is listening to the voice of the customer, it will understand that it is to survey what is available and then to recommend what it believes is the “best” accounting system for the customer’s use.

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