BAMFORTH, S. and BROOKES, N.J., 2002. Incorporating the voice of multiple customers into product design. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture, 216(5), pp. 809-813.
Listening to the voice of the customer is made complicated when the roles of the customer are carried out by more than one individual or stakeholder (a stakeholder performs one or more of the decision-making roles normally enacted by a single customer). The issues surrounding multiple stakeholder requirements are examined with particular reference to small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and the rehabilitation industry; this industry is concerned with products that enable the elderly and disabled to live more independently. A series of case studies has been conducted to identify the current practices of rehabilitation companies and the suitability of accepted design methods for incorporating the voice of the customer into the design process. The results of the study indicate that smaller companies within the rehabilitation industry do not use formal methods of design or market research; this is partly attributable to their limited resources and experience. An outline is given of a method developed by the CACTUS Project to enable resource-limited companies in the rehabilitation industry to incorporate the voice of the customer into their design. The method is currently being tested. It is hoped that the CACTUS approach will be applicable to other industries with similar characteristics and multiple stakeholders.