Cinderella’s shoe, does it fit everyone?

Husband and Wife both are Six Sigma practitioners. Obviously, their daily lives conversations happen in Six Sigma parlance. The wife happens to be a very good cook, one of the reasons why the husband married her. Suddenly, three days at a stretch, the food starts to have extra salt. Husband objects, to which wife responds

“Common Cause of Variation”. One day, the wife adds a lot of salt to the food. Husband takes ill and is admitted to the hospital. Wife comes to see him and quips, “Sorry, special cause of variation.” Husband says, “It was Structural.”

Three days later, Husband hands out a divorce notice to wife and quips, “Process Unstable. Not meeting CTQ*.”
*CTQs are the internal critical quality parameters that relate to the wants and needs of the customer.

Thought of sharing this joke as I believe it will help us all in remembering few vocabularies used during our last session.

The last few session reminded me of one of the main product development projects that I’ve worked on, where we launched one product in 7 different markets, however we had to customize it a bit for each market in order to meet customer expectations in each of the 7 markets.
The product was basically a credit card in local currency, you may wonder what is so special about it? Well it was an American Express local currency Credit Card.  And as you may know, American Express is considered the most prestigious plastic card in the world, and it targets individuals with high expenditure patterns. Refer to this blog for American  American
Express’s Competitive Position

As this may be very true for its main product “the Charge Card”, it was not applicable for their Credit Card target segment, which made the product development & marketing teams wonder of what would attract customers to American Express Credit Card rather than any other credit cards available in their market? Well the development team followed the differentiation strategy while designing the product. It was the feel of the prestigious card that attracted customers to it, in addition to the appropriately designed product that met customer’s expectation in each of the targeted markets. But how did the development team identify the customer needs? They utilized their existing data and referred to the Charge Card customer base, they asked them if they would like to hold supplementary Credit Cards for their spouses and children with a credit limit, and bang that was highly demanded. As loyal cardholders they didn’t want to hold many different brands of cards and also didn’t want to  provide the open limit charge card as supplementary cards to their family. Of course further focus groups were obtained then to identify the requirements of each market, and to develop a product that is different than the current ones in the market. Tremendous amount of work was held but it was worth it, the product was launched successfully and it was well perceived in all 7 different markets.

However, do you think what AMEX did for identifying customer’s needs in each market was enough? If not, what alternative ways would you suggest?

One thought on “Cinderella’s shoe, does it fit everyone?

  1. Brilliant way to introduce the Six Sigma idea to everyone Nada.

    In my opinion, I believe that American Express first scanned the market. Looked specifically at the customers’ needs and wants. It identified what sometimes stops them from meeting their demands which is money.
    It developed a product that is so convenient and flexible. And with the variations as said products are being enhanced to further meets the needs and wants.

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