Customer-focused engineering is a process designed to ensure that products meet customer expectations from their initial concept to the end of their life. Customer-focused engineering is a form of quality control that ensures product reliability and subsequently improves customer satisfaction and profitability. According to consultancy firm Customer Focus Engineering, organizations can improve profitability by as much as 40 percent by aligning business processes with their strategic goals and their customers.
The discipline of customer-focused engineering ensures that an organization meets customers’ expectations at every stage in the development, manufacture and support of a product, according to the website Customer Focused Engineering. The framework of customer-focused engineering helps an organization to meet its customers’ requirements first time.
Through-life costing is an important aspect of customer-focused engineering. Through-life costing refers to the costs a customer incurs in acquiring and using a product. By concentrating on quality, reliability and support, customer-focused engineering can help to minimize the costs of downtime, repair and replacement customers face when products fail, reducing their through-life costs.
Customer-focused engineering provides an important coordinating role, according to the Customer Focused Engineering website. The process provides technical coordination to integrate the work of all the different departments that design, develop, manufacture and support the product. The process also brings the customer perspective to all individual product-related tasks.
Customer-focused engineering can reduce an organization’s product-related costs. At the development stage, the alignment of customer requirements and technical specifications minimizes the amount of rework of unsuccessful concepts. By improving product reliability, customer-focused engineering also helps to reduce an organization’s after-sales support costs. Reliable performance leads to fewer support requests, enabling an organization to reduce its telephone and field support infrastructure.
Customer-focused engineering helps to reduce the level of risk in new product development by integrating customer requirements with new product strategy. At the initial concept stage, an organization can focus on ideas that are likely to deliver market success. Stanford University reported that some 90 percent of successful new products derive from a focus on market requirements, compared to just 10 percent that result from basic research for its own sake.
Measurement is an important element of a customer-focused engineering strategy. Metrics should cover factors such as levels of rework in product development; changes in customer satisfaction levels; numbers of product returns or recalls; and reduction in service requests.