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The Voice of the Customer


  • Abbie Griffin

    (University of Chicago)

  • John R. Hauser

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


In recent years, many U.S. and Japanese firms have adopted Quality Function Deployment (QFD). QFD is a total-quality-management process in which the “voice of the customer” is deployed throughout the R&D, engineering, and manufacturing stages of product development. For example, in the first “house” of QFD, customer needs are linked to design attributes thus encouraging the joint consideration of marketing issues and engineering issues. This paper focuses on the “Voice-of-the-Customer” component of QFD, that is, the tasks of identifying customer needs, structuring customer needs, and providing priorities for customer needs. In the stage, we address the questions of (1) how many customers need be interviewed, (2) how many analysts need to read the transcripts, (3) how many customer needs do we miss, and (4) are focus groups or one-on-one interviews superior? In the stage the customer needs are arrayed into a hierarchy of primary, secondary, and tertiary needs. We compare group consensus (affinity) charts, a technique which accounts for most industry applications, with a technique based on customer-sort data. In the stage which we present new data in which product concepts were created by product-development experts such that each concept stressed the fulfillment of one primary customer need. Customer interest in and preference for these concepts are compared to measured and estimated importances. We also address the question of whether frequency of mention can be used as a surrogate for importance. Finally, we examine the stated goal of QFD, . Our data demonstrate a self-selection bias in satisfaction measures that are used commonly for QFD and for corporate incentive programs. We close with a brief application to illustrate how a product-development team used the voice of the customer to create a successful new product.

Suggested Citation

  • Abbie Griffin & John R. Hauser, 1993. "The Voice of the Customer," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(1), pages 1-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormksc:v:12:y:1993:i:1:p:1-27

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hauser, John R. & Urban, Glen L., 1975. "A normative methodology for modeling consumer response to innovation," Working papers 785-75., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Griffin, Abbie. & Hauser, John R., 1991. "The marketing and R & D interface," Working papers #48-91. Working paper (Sl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    3. Green, Paul E & Srinivasan, V, 1978. " Conjoint Analysis in Consumer Research: Issues and Outlook," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 103-123, Se.
    4. George P. Huber, 1974. "Multi-Attribute Utility Models: A Review of Field and Field-Like Studies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 20(10), pages 1393-1402, June.
    5. John R. Hauser, 1977. "Testing the Accuracy," Discussion Papers 286, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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    new product research; product policy; measurement;

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