To meet a customer's needs, a business must first know what those needs are. The difference between what a business thinks its customers want and what they actually want can be the difference between recording a profit and booking a loss. The customer matrix helps a business identify the things its clients want and can assist a company in setting prices and in determining customer satisfaction. A successful customer matrix requires a business to continuously interact with its clientele.
Customer matrix has become widely associated with the Quality Function Deployment movement born in Japan in the 1970s. QFD focuses on finding out what a customer wants from a product before the company provides the product. Seeking customer input at every step of design and production, a business produces goods that meet expectations clients might not even realize they had. Abbie Griffin and John R. Hauser firmly established QFD's reliance on hearing the voice of the customer in a 1993 "Marketing Science" article.
House of Quality
Full implementation of the QFD voice-of-the-customer concept results in a customer matrix known as the House of Quality. This matrix begins with a simple grid matching what a client wants against ways in which a business can satisfy the client's desires. The scheme receives its name from the shape it takes on as more and more functions are added to it. Eventually, a House of Quality matrix includes priorities, goals and production considerations.
Defining the Customer Matrix
Not every business requires an elaborate customer matrix. An effective customer matrix can be as simple as a two-column list: One column describes what customers want; the second column describes how the company will fulfill those wants. Seeking customer input before, during and after the design process lies at the heart of the customer matrix. Key production decisions are made based on this input; therefore, determining who makes up a company's core clientele becomes essential.
Understanding Customer Needs
Companies often build products and produce services based on the company's perception of what the customer wants. The customer matrix strives to discover the product best suited to a customer's expectations. Customer-driven production demands companies go to where the customers are. Talk to customers where they will be using the company's products. Bring them to the company for on-site consultations. Involve all of the company's departments in satisfying their needs. Use the customer's own words when speaking with product designers. The value of the customer matrix derives from following through on its recommendations.
- Iowa State University, Department of Statistics: House of Quality
- RAIC Desk Reference: Quality Function Deployment
- Marketing Science: The Voice of the Customer
- The QFD Handbook; Jack B. ReVelle, et al.
- Customer-Centric Product Definition: The Key to Great Product; Sheila Mello
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