There are many parameters which determine the company success. Consumer experience is not the only ending point of creating business. It consists of many things such as Selling point, offers and discounts, complementary products rates, after sale services, customer feedback and further product improvements. There are many ways of getting costumers into picture for business success plan, of which one is to get the voice of the customer, which means taking continuously healthy feedback of the costumer (McQuarrie & Edward , 1998). This is basically into the design specification of a product is best quality function deployment (QFD). This approach essentially employs inter-functional teams from various departments of the Competitive organization . This may be following:
- marketing principle
- design engineering
The same has been credited by teams from Toyota Motor Corporation. The company used the approach for sharp cost cutting on its cars. This was as much as 60 percent. It not only does that but also helped in shortening decision times.
The QFD practice as a whole is much of the customer centric process. The starting point of the same is essentially begins from studying, interviewing, understanding listening to the targeted and relevant consumers who may help to seeing us the gap between company’s existing product and the best quality of the finer product (Freed & Larry, 2008). Market research plays a vital role. Through this, the customers’ product desiring and needs as well as penchants are first defined and smacked down onto different groupings. These groupings are called as “customer requirements”.
House of Quality
Basically, as discussed above, the process is very much consumer centric for the betterment of the final product, this process essentially form a matrix. The foundation of the HOUSE OF QUALITY matrix is laid by the consumer constraints information. Establishing the matrix of use of quality, the cross operating QFD team may use consumer opinions to different decisions pertaining to engineering or marketing (Anderson & Duff, 2007). The designed HOQ matrix addresses and helps the different teams to translate customer requirements into concrete operating or engineering goals.
This method ties different departments of the organization together in harmony to work more productively (Burchill et al, 1997). Hence the resulting outcome is better sympathetic view for consumer’s expectations, their goals and concerns. However, the end motive and biggest benefit from HOQ is that HOQ guides the teams of the organization so that they may converge on structuring such a product which rightly gratifies consumers (Katz & Gerald, 2001).
Company Chosen: Dell Inc.
Dell is loved by the gizmo freaks. Be it computers, laptops, smart phones, any gadget for that matter. Dell Inc. is an American founded company. The company’s stock market listing is: NASDAQ: Dell, HKEX: 4331 (Freed & Larry, 2008). Dell is a multinational information technology corporation. The company operates from, Texas, the United States of America. Dell’s business operation model mainly consists of selling and supporting computers and related products and services. The company name Dell has directly derived from the founder of the company, Michael Dell. Dell is one of the largest technological corporations in the world. It has provided the employment of more than 103,300 in the entire world. Dell is listed at 38th rank on latest report of the Fortune 500 (2011).
The growth story of the company is interesting enough, being combination of both the organic growth and the inorganic growth. Prominent mergers & acquisitions have taken place. This includes Alienware (2006) and Perot Systems (2009). As latest as of 2009, the company has the following product line:
- Personal computers
- Data storage devices
- Network switches
- Software and
- Computer peripherals
Dell is also into the business plan of selling High Definition Tele Visions, cameras, printers, MP3 players and other electronics out sourced from other reliable and quality manufacturer (Hauser, 1993). Dell has made itself known and popular for its innovative supply chain management and electronic commerce strategies.
Acer Inc is basically a Taiwan based company. It is a multinational electronics manufacturer (Anderson & Duff, 2007). Acer owns the outsized franchise based retail chain in computer selling business in Taiwan, known as land of Acer. In global context, after Dell and H.P., Acer is the third largest computer manufacturer Acer’s product line up includes the following:
- Desktop and mobile PCs (laptops)
- digital assistance (PDAs)
- servers and storage
- peripherals, and
- e-business solutions for business, government, education and home.
Toshiba Computers are considered to be relatively cheaper player of the industry. Toshiba’s main focal point is semiconductor chip manufacturing. Mainly during 1990s and even currently (Abbie and Hauser, 1993). Toshiba is one of the largest semi conductor companies (with NEC). Its semiconductors are in top 5. In 2005, Toshiba’s semiconductors were ranked number 4.
Development of Dell’s Laptop is based on customers review and feedback as one the reviews was:
“I have bought three laptops from dell in the previous four years, but my next one, would be probably of H.P.” Due to Dell’s leading edge technology, industry best trade off between price and product, innovative features, this computer this customer has not been attracted by H.P as much as she has been chased away by her non-product encounter with Dell, which have become too frequent, time consuming and the early learning curve phase of owning a leading edge model machine (Hauser, 1993).
Technically, the process of House of Quality goes something like the following. The steps described below are not the benchmark or industry justified process, however, these are likely to be followed steps:
Develop a well enriched catalogue of consumer prerequisites: The HOQ begins from valuable customers insights. It has purely to do with the customers’ needs and edge of requirements. At the outset, company builds the house of quality, is to develop a list of customer requirements for the product.
Ranking the requirements: all the requirements and needs have priority and importance. Hence, all the requirements not being the same important, from the given feedback, the department needs to rank the requirements as per their own selection and need fulfilment criteria.
Comparison: after the above two tasks, the reviewed customers then asked to put side by side the company’s artefact to that with the competitors.
Technical developments: with the insight of consumers’ preferences and company’s resource constraint, companies trade off between what its customers WANTS and what it may be able to fulfil. Hence, for a company next step is to develop an array of technical attributes of the product. For any company, it is very essential to consider that these developed technical features should have direct relation to what consumers asked to alter as their requirements.
Evaluation: All said and done, if the acceptance of the incremental changes in the product is not reviewed, right picture of the process and House of Quality may not be obtained. Hence, an assessment of these features should support or refute customer takedowns of the product. These refined data are then used for valuation for the strength and weaknesses of the product for the altered and modified technicalities.
House of quality matrix for Dell computers
It is basically, a tool utilized multi disciplinary team to translate the consumer requirements, popularly known as VOICE OF CUSTOMERS. It is given rigour through relevant field research and technicalities to set the benchmark for the data into an apt number of prioritized target set by the company engineering to lay a new engineering design. It has six steps to be followed. They are as:
- Voice of customers
- Planning Matrix
- Voice of Engineers
- Inter-Relationship Matrix
- Target Priorities
Figuratively, it goes as follow:
Voice of Customer
This is the earliest step of HOQ and the most imperative. It manuscripts the well thought-out list of customer’s requirements. The information generally is congregated through conversation with customers in which they are prompted to depict their exertions (McQuarrie & Edward , 1998). After gathering customer’s requirements, they are arranged into groups with perceived association and importance given to the requirements that customers described. Read more about Total Quality Management
Scale for describing importance= 1 least important; 15 most important
|Extended battery life and time|
|High screen resolution|
|Customer Support/ Warranty|
The presentation of the problems mentioned above can be well phrased figuratively as below. We consider it as a systematic Tree Diagram. Here from the voice of customers or considering views of respondents, we can classify the improvement process into two broad categories:
Hence we shall first plot these classifications into Tree Diagram form in order to get better process clarity and then we shall understand each improvement step by step.
Extended battery life and time: as per the surveys and the current laptop capacity, the normal present dated laptops can work for 1.3 to 2 hours with full multimedia back. The customer’s complaint a lot about the low battery life and low battery backup as well. They wish to have battery life of at least 3 to 4 hours.
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Lighter weight: This is again a feature demanded by the consumers that the weight of the laptop should be lighter enough in order to have easiness in carrying it. The laptops as available in the market are of 5 pounds to 9 pounds. Customer preferences are as lighter as possible.
High screen resolution: Today the high resolution screens are used in laptops to be well displayed in sunlight, the requirements was high resolution screen approximately to 1600 x 1200 DPI.
Exterior Designed: The look of the laptop is also asked to make trendier and hence exterior to be colourful is asked by the consumers.
Wireless connectivity: This feature is required and asked by almost all of the customers as to gain ease to access to internet operations.
Shape/ Sleekness: This is one of the most admirable attribute by the consumer. This is generally demanded in any high tech products. Unique shapes and cuts make the gadget more attractive.
Warranty: Almost all the Dell users found that as far as warranty is concerned, dell is lagging behind. They asked the company to have good extended warranty schemes which makes laptop maintenance cheaper and bearable.
- Memory extension feature
- Unique features
The planning matrix is a step after the above one. It serves several functions. Very first function of the planning matrix is to succeed the consumer’s needs, priority and their takes on the performance of prevailing product in the market (Freed & Larry, 2008).
It fosters this precedence to be adjusted based on the concerns that concern the design team. The measures used in this step are generally gathered through questionnaire from customers (Hauser, 1993).
The first three column of the planning matrix measures customer’s perceptions about company’s product and competitors product and data is gathered through questionnaire on predefined Likert scale (1to5). This data shows how customers feel about company’s product as against the competitor’s products.
Planning column shows the importance of each requirement according to company.
A sales point measure can be used to add weight to those requirements which can be utilized to market its product (Usually between 1 and 1.5).
The overall weight for each customer relationship and requirement is calculated as follows:
Overall weight = Customer importance * Improvement factor * sales point
Improvement factor = (organization planned score – customer score) * Incremental factor + 1
Incremental factor = 1
Sales point = 1
Scale for comparison between Dell and Competitor’s product= 1: being very dissatisfied, 5: being most satisfied
Voice of engineers
This step of HOQ is called voice of engineers or Voice of company. It expresses the product in terms of Dell. This in turn engendered by the QFD team which identifies all the measurable characteristics of the product which they observe are related to meet the customer requirements (McQuarrie & Edward , 1998). In the same way, that customer’s requirement are secured, the characteristics of the product are also grouped with perceived associations.
To meet the requirements of the customers, engineers identified the following characteristics. They are described as:
1-6 cell Lithium Neon Mini Battery
Battery is one of major the set-backs in case of laptops. Li-Ne Batteries with maximum settings for the processor, the cooling, and the brightest level the battery will last maximum for 2 hours 20 minutes. This is an ideal time to finish a DVD. For the longer lasting battery life setting for use with normal workloads, it should be able to get a little over 3 hours and may be longer when the wireless off (Ulwick & Anthony, 2002). There is also an optional battery which can replace the DVD drive which can increase the battery life another 2.5 hours. The shorter battery life is due in large part to powering the digitizing Li-Ne Batteries. It, hence provides this laptop some more extended battery life than notebooks.
Portable devices: Portable devices such as Combo drives, CD, DVD drives give an edge of connecting when the time of need to use embedded ROMs. It contributes to the light weight of the Laptop (Katz & Gerald, 2001).
TFT Screen: TFT is the trans flash screen used in high definition television and advanced viewing devices with the maximum resolution of approx to 1600 x 1200 dpi, which will enhance the view in the sunlight and day time, with crisp, sharp images (Anderson & Duff, 2007).
Seven Colour Exterior: Body colour in the laptop is quite in existence. Dell has introduces 7 colours for the laptops which would be
- Computer Beige
- Off white
- Metallic Blue
- Metallic Silver
- Plasma Brown
All these colour plates will have aluminium casing tops of laptops. However, this shall add to laptop final cost as well.
Wi-fi/ Bluetooth/Wi-max/ Wi LAN connectivity: There are two options for Intel integrated wireless, whether to choose WI-FI or to choose WIMAX connection (Anderson & Duff, 2007). The laptop connects routers without problem. Bluetooth will also be an available option. There is infrared laptop to support wireless connectivity.
- Design and Build (Shape)
- Drivers upgradation
- In Built Retina/ Finger Scanner
- Vibration Sensor
- Novel Micro scale heat exchange cooling system
- John R. Hauser (1993) How Puritan-Bennet used the house of quality. Sloan Management Review, Spring, 61-70
- Reed, Kevin (2010-07-23). “Dell pays $100m penalty to settle accounting fraud charges”. Accountancy Age. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
- Bradley N (2007) Marketing Research. Tools and Techniques. Oxford University Press, Oxford
- Burchill, Gary and Brodie, Christina Hepner, (1997). Voices into Choices. Madison, WI: Joiner Publications. (A complete “how-to” guide of the process developed at the Center for Quality Management in the early 1990’s.)
- Griffin, Abbie and Hauser, (1993). The Voice of the Customer. Marketing Science, 12(1): 1-27 (Winter). (The first truly empirical study of Voice of the Customer, the goal of which was to identify best practices.)
- Katz, Gerald, (2001). The “One Right Way” to Gather the Voice of the Customer. PDMA Visions, 25(2) (October) (Examines all of the various trade-offs in how to go about gathering Voice of the Customer information, with the conclusion that there is no “one right way”.)
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