Case Number: 5-412-754, Year Published: 2013
HBS Number: KEL738
Business Process Improvement, Crisis Management, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Operations Management, Organizational Effectiveness, Six Sigma, Total Quality, Customer Satisfaction
Samsung Electronics had experienced a series of quality-related problems, including the recall of one of its LCD TV models. Unfortunately for quality director Kevin Sarni, there was no single root cause behind these problems: Samsung’s supply chain management, product design, and testing/quality assurance functions all played a role. Sarni regularly worked with quantitative data from Samsung’s customer complaint database, but recently he had been shown comments about Samsung products posted on the website ConsumerAffairs.com. The number and emotional tone of the website postings concerned him; he worried these kinds of complaints might touch off a social media–fueled public relations firestorm that would make his job more difficult. He wanted to analyze this feedback, but had no experience with qualitative data. An internal Six Sigma Black Belt consultant suggested he start by creating an affinity diagram and use that to create a Pareto chart to determine which issues to address first. Once Sarni completed the unfamiliar diagrams he had still another task ahead of him: examining the results to see if they justified taking short-term action to address the quality problems raised in the complaints.
After analyzing the case, students should be able to: • Organize and analyze qualitative data using affinity diagrams • Identify priorities using Pareto charts The case reinforces the importance of approaching problem solving in a methodical and data-driven manner and demonstrates the power of visual (vs. table-driven) tools.
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