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Strategies to Overcome the Voice-of-the-Customer Challenge

Strategies that help overcome impediments to listening to the voice of the customer include discussing available options with customers, spending time and resources reviewing and meeting with customers, and letting customers know when team members need customer input to shape team assignments. A team’s mission should align with its customers’ missions. Often, however, customers cannot define their mission because they do not understand the team’s capabilities, possible solutions, and methods. Sharing and refining options should be part of the normal dialogue with the customer.

A second strategy is to require that team members both listen and respond to the voice of the customer. If a team regularly spends time and resources reviewing a customer’s needs and meeting with the customer to discuss identified requirements, it is unlikely to maintain that it knows better than the customer what he or she wants. Every team has a responsibility to meet the needs of the customer as stipulated in the team’s mission statement. A strategy to help teams listen to the voice of the customer is to give them clear responsibility and authority to begin interacting with customers. Teams need to inform customers about team activities in which customers have a stake, and they need to provide contact information for customers to communicate their input regarding team assignments.

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