Creating Customer Value

 Sustaining Edge Solutions, Inc. Newsletter

Performance Improvement Solutions for Your Business                                     May 2013


This Month
* Creating Customer Value
* User Friendly Form Design
* Auditing Analysis of Data
* In the News
* Training Courses


ASQ World Conference on Quality Improvement May 6-8, 2013 Indianapolis, IN.
2013 SME Conference June 2-4, 2013 Baltimore, MD



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Our newsletters provide information on business management systems.  These systems include ISO 9001 QMS, AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense, ISO/TS 16949 Automotive, ISO 27001 Information Security, ISO 13485 Medical Devices, ISO 14001 Environmental, and others.  Subjects include performance improvement methods such as Six Sigma, Lean Enterprise, and other topics of interest to our readers.

If you have any questions regarding the content or have a subject of interest for a future newsletter, please let us know.  


Creating Customer Value          

It appears from our vantage point and the experts that the manufacturing segment is coming back. Many of us are thinking of ways to best shape our company’s economic recovery into the most profitable form possible. 

The answer is to deliver more than your share of customer value. Keep in mind your competition won’t be standing idle while you innovate and grow during the improving economy. To stay ahead of your competition, you should keep a strategic focus on what sets your company apart within your industry.


You could have a number of marketable differences from your competition. Spending more on R&D, or sales efforts? Acquiring capital equipment beyond your current capacities? Is what you’re doing focused on internal needs, or are you implementing your customer’s ideas?

1. Conduct face-to-face interviews.

Of all the ways to learn about customer needs-telephone, e-mail survey, Internet, nothing comes close in effectiveness to face-to-face customer interviews. Many of us use customer surveys to determine satisfaction levels. Many of use a Likert Scale method (1-5) based on questions we have determined are important.


The reality is that most questions asked are actually customer-reactive, not market-customer proactive interviews. Should we be asking our customers “Please rate the quality of our products?”, or “How can we provide a better quality product to you?” Get out and visit your customers and find out what’s important to them!

2. Develop a Voice of the Customer mentality.

Voice of the Customer studies typically consist of both qualitative and quantitative steps. They are generally conducted at the start or finish of a new product, process, or service design in order to better understand the customer’s wants and needs. That e-mail survey with the 3-5% average return, is it handing you a report of “what the customer wants?” This is a flawed model. Train your people to be VOC experts!


Best of all, you’ll develop a reputation among customers as “that supplier who really does listen to us.”


3. Become a quantitative organization.

After you conduct good qualitative customer interviews, you can target specific customer ideas you could work on. Which ideas do you target in your product design? Which ideas do you target in your product realization processes? At this point get quantitative. Being quantitative helps you to understand which customer outcomes are most important and least satisfied.

The key to taking advantage of the recovering economy is in changing the way your company approaches your current and future customers. Start now, with a new approach and you’ll shape a true recovery at your company.

User Friendly Form Design       


Company user-friendly forms reduce operating time, expense and employee frustration.  Here are nine tips for designing effective forms:

1. Name the form so its purpose is clear.Using non-specific terms may force users to spend extra time locating the form they need.

2. Maintain the expected order of fields. Use headers that are standard for your organization and sequence fields logically.

3. Position field names clearly with their corresponding fields. Don’t make users guess whether they need to write above a field name or below it.

4. Emphasize an often-overlooked field by surrounding it with extra space, using bolder text, or repositioning it to a more prominent location on the form.

5. Design the form to be clear without instructions.However, if instructions are required, place them on the form itself.

6. Design a single form for multiple use. If the same information is required for several different forms, consider consolidating the forms.

7. Identify each form with a number and revision date to ensure the most current version is being used.

8. Avoid referencing individuals’ names or telephone numbers, unless the form is online or otherwise economical to revise.

9. Automate where practical by creating computer-generated templates or implementing a “paperless” online forms system.


Auditing Analysis of Data        


Analyzing data is an essential activity for improving your system and its processes, as well as, your products and services. Data collection has no purpose if the data isn’t examined, evaluated, analyzed, and converted into proposals for decision making. 

The Guidance on Terminology resource at the ISO web site defines the term “analysis” as the breaking up of something complex into its various simple elements. The reason to separate something into its elements is to determine either their nature (qualitative analysis) or their proportions (quantitative analysis). 

Therefore, we analyze the data to show the quality management system is effective (achieving planned results) and to spot where improvements can be made. It is not enough to just collect the data, we must analyze it and reach some conclusions.


As a result of the monitoring and measurement activities called for by ISO 9001:2008, Clauses 8.2.3 and 8.2.4, you will have collected a lot of data, which can be analyzed to indicate trends. Any trends you may find could suggest where there are problems in your quality management system and indicate areas where improvements are needed.


Analysis of data can help to determine the root cause of existing or potential problems, and thereby guide decisions about corrective and preventive actions need for improvement. For an effective evaluation by management of the total performance of an organization, data from all parts of the organization should be integrated and analyzed.


The overall performance should be presented in a format that is suitable for different levels of the organization. The results of this analysis can be used to determine: 


  • Trends; customer satisfaction (and satisfaction of other interested parties)
  • Process effectiveness and efficiency; supplier contribution
  • Success of performance improvement objectives
  • Economics of quality, financial, and market-related performance
  • Performance benchmarking; competitiveness.


In the News      
Reshoring Report
Nearly half of U.S. manufacturing companies surveyed are thinking of reshoring jobs.

The MIT Forum for Supply Chain Innovation has released a report, “U.S Reshoring: A Turning Point,” based on the results of its 2012 U.S. reshoring survey.

In total, 340 participants completed the survey, of which 198 were manufacturing-only companies. Out of those 198 companies, 156 were U.S. companies, defined as having their headquarters in the United States.  The top three manufacturing-only industries that responded to the survey were: computers and electronics (19.2 percent), food and beverage (10.6 percent) and chemicals (8.1 percent). The category, “Other Manufacturing Companies,” includes manufacturers of personal care products, golf equipment, and various other companies.

For U.S. manufacturing companies, the data indicates a significant disparity between companies that are “considering” vs. those that are “definitively” planning on re-shoring, meaning to bring their manufacturing activities back to the United States. This disparity was independent of company size.

Specifically, 33.6 percent of respondents stated that they are “considering” bringing manufacturing back to the United States, while only 15.3 percent of U.S. companies stated that they are “definitively” planning to reshore activities. Time-to-market and controlling costs were two main reasons for reshoring, according to the survey. Interestingly, one-third of the respondents did not answer this question, possibly indicating a reluctance to discuss the topic due to its sensitive nature.

The survey asked the participating U.S. companies to identify government actions that will accelerate the reshoring process. According to the data, the No. 1 government action that can make a difference is corporate tax reductions; providing tax credits and R&D incentives tied for second place.


Training Courses

To see the course description, schedule, and on-line registration click on the course title below. We deliver onsite training for all these courses and customized training to fit your specific needs.  We offer group discounts.  


View all our Courses

View Our Web Based E-Training Courses   

ISO 9001 Quality Management

Understanding and Implementing ISO9001:2008

ISO 9001:2008 Process Based Internal Auditor 

Documenting Your Management System

AS9100 Aviation, Space and Defense

Understanding and Implementing AS9100C (9110 &9120) Aviation, Space and Defense

AS9100C:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor

Documenting Your Management System 

ISO/TS 16949 Automotive

Understanding and Implementing ISO/TS16949:2009 Automotive

ISO/TS16949:2009 Process Based Internal Auditor
Documenting Your Management System 

ISO 14001 Environmental

Understanding and Implementing ISO14001:2004 Environmental
ISO14001:2004 Process Based Internal Auditor

Lean Enterprise and CI 

5S Five Pillars of a Lean Workplace Organization
Continuous Process Improvement
Lean Six Sigma
8 Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving

ISO 13485 Medical Devices

Understanding and Implementing ISO 13485:2003 Medical Devices
ISO 13485 Process Based Internal Auditor 

ISO 27001 Information Security

Understanding and Implementing ISO 27001:2005 Information Security
ISO 27001 Process Based Internal Auditor 

All courses can be delivered at your company. Don’t see a course, location, or date that fits your needs?

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