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VOC Translation

Translate customer feedback into measurable characteristics Work smarter. Achieve more.

Translated Quantifiable
Voice of the A method for translating
Customer Measurements
Customer (VOC) customer expectations into
Requirements (CTQs)
measurable characteristics.

Box looks good Damage free • % shipments undamaged

• % on time Understanding Customer
Really speedy Timeliness • Tracking accuracy
• % required scans

Not delivered to Correct delivery

• % addresses valid
neighbor • % airbills readable

VOC translation is a method for translating the “Voice of the Customer” (VOC) into variables
that we can measure in our business. These variables are sometimes referred to as CTQs,
which stands for Critical to Quality.

A team is examining what residential customers expect from the delivery experience. When
these customers are asked to define good service, they say things like “Box looks good,”
“Really speedy” and “Not delivered to neighbor.” In order to translate these customer com-
ments into measurable characteristics, the team uses VOC translation. They begin by writing
each of the most common customer phrases on a separate index card. Then they group the
cards with similar messages together into categories (see diagram next page).
As they perform this grouping, the team takes care to choose category names that are both
precise and that reflect something we can control  in our operations. For example, though the
customers said, “Box looks good,” the team does not translate this into a category named
“Box appearance,” but into a category named “Damage free.” These categories are the cus-
tomer requirements.

Finally, the group brainstorms ways to measure each of these customer requirements. Many
turn out to be variables already measured on an everyday basis — such as percentage of
on-time deliveries. But in other cases, the team’s brainstorming uncovers items they must
proactively go out and gather data for — such as the readability of airbills.

• To help identify opportunities in the Assess phase of ABLE.

• To translate customer surveys and other research into actionable measurements.

1 Identify the customer groups using a SIPOC diagram or other tools. Note that customers
can be either internal or external.

2 Gather “Voice of the Customer” data on the issue you are exploring — from project-
specific customer research, such as surveys and focus groups, or from historical data.

3 Write the most representative data from customers on index cards.

4 Group similar customer statements or data into categories. See diagram below. This is
called creating an “affinity diagram.”

5 Translate the customer language into customer requirements. To do this, choose names
for the categories that: 1) are precise and 2) reflect something we can control in our

6 For each customer requirement, brainstorm ways we can measure whether we have
fulfilled the requirement. These will likely fall into two categories:

• Variables we already measure (and for which historical data is available).

• Variables your team will have to go out and measure.

Visit the QDM website for a VOC translation template.

DAMAGE FREE Here is an example of
Delivery as Fast
grouping similar customer
promised delivery Box looks
comments and choosing
Really category names. In quality
On-time science, this is called an
delivery No damage “affinity diagram.”


good condition

Not delivered to Not lost


Went to right

• When creating an affinity diagram in step 4 above, use note cards, sheets of paper or
sticky notes to make customer comments easy to group and re-group into different

• If two or more cards seem to be merely a different wording of the same idea, overlap the
cards so that the most representative comment can be read but all cards can be seen.