Recent quality related issues have put Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest technology companies at risk. These quality concerns, spiked through recent recalls and external complaints, have generated a flow of bad news coming to the desk of quality director Kevin Sarni. The issues most commonly found within the complaints related to display issues, customer service support, faulty electric components, audio, and safety. Of the main issues, display and customer service support appeared to be the most detrimental. Once the patterns and themes became visible, Samsung and its quality director Kevin Sarni were challenged with immediately identifying root causes. This was not an easy task, although with the help of a Six Sigma Black Belt consultant, Sarni was able to begin further qualitative analysis to determine where action is necessary.
In April of 2012, Samsung Electronics, and its quality director Kevin Sarni faced a number of quality related problems with their LCD televisions. The problems first surfaced after a recent LCD TV recall. Shortly thereafter, complaints were generated through other sources online, as well as Samsung’s internal complaint database. ConsumerAffairs, the main source of external customer complaints, was an independent consumer news and blogging website. Sarni couldn't believe the emotions encapsulated within the complaints found on ConsumerAffairs, and was concerned about the public quickly developing a negative perception of Samsung’s products. In the past, Sarni had worked specifically on quantitative manufacturing data and therefore, lacked experience with the analysis of qualitative measures. Samsung’s dwindling quality and increasing number of complaints had to be stopped, and as the quality director, Sarni knew he had to attack them, but was faced with the question of how to do so.
After further analysis of the thirty-three complaints posted on ConsumerAffairs, there appeared to be some significant patterns. In order to unpack the list of complaints it was necessary to construct a table listing the main categories of issues. The five main categories identified were display, customer service, electronic components, audio, and safety. After the main categories were established, subcategories were created (Appendix 1). The subcategories are simply smaller scale issues that relate to a bigger picture problem. Some complaints actually included multiple aspects, and are therefore placed in more than one main category. After categorizing and analyzing the complaints, an affinity diagram was created (Appendix 2). Next, a pareto analysis was constructed in order to demonstrate the cumulative percent and individual frequencies of the complaints (Appendix 3). Both the affinity diagram and the pareto analysis show the two largest categories being display issues and customer service issues. These two categories alone amounted to 75% of the issues addressed within the complaints. The largest issues in terms of display were lines through the screen, no picture at all, and a fluttering picture. Although there is no strict evidence, it is highly likely that a faulty electronic component installed in the television could cause display issues. Customer service on the other hand was quite sporadic in terms of low frequencies in the subcategories except for expired warranty/service plans and non-refundable situations. These particular complaints of expired service seem to be the most emotional of all, and most likely the ones that could develop a negative perception in the eyes of the public. Other subcategories, such as audio and safety, were relatively low in frequency, and therefore should not be the immediate problems to address. Lastly, to aid in identifying root causes, a cause-and-effect diagram was created (Appendix 4). The diagram consists of four branches...
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