When making improvements to our services or processes, we often feel we already know what our customers or patients want – but do we really, or are we making assumptions? Before we move forward, we should first ask our patients or other customers about their needs, wants, and expectations, and how important these things are to them. In Performance Improvement, this is called the Voice of the Customer (VOC). There are many different ways to obtain the VOC (Survey’s or Focus Group?):
- Surveys are the most common method for finding the VOC, and can provide lots of data very quickly. However, it is difficult to ask open-ended or follow-up questions.
- Focus groups are another way to obtain the VOC. They can take longer to compile enough data, but allow more flexibility in asking questions and can uncover issues you may not have known about.
Once we have feedback from our customers, we can use different Performance Improvement tools, such as the Kano Model or a Critical to Quality (CTQ) tree, to interpret our findings.
A CTQ tree can help clarify general need statements into tangible characteristics – from “I want my surgery to go well” to “I want my surgery to start on time, achieve my desired outcomes, not hurt me, and get me home quickly.” The Kano Model helps us to understand customer needs: what satisfies and dissatisfies our customers, as well as what can “delight” them. We can then categorize these as basic needs, performance needs, and excitement needs. Using these methods and tools can help us better serve our customers by first understanding what they want and need from us. What we may consider important is not necessarily what our customers want!