What Is a CTQ Tree?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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A critical-to-quality (CTQ) tree is a tree diagram used by businesses to see a product through the customer’s eyes. The tree finds a problem, or something to be improved, in the product or service, figures out what is causing the problem, and then highlights one or more ways of fixing the problem to improve customer satisfaction. The data used to create a CTQ tree come either from surveys or from consistent complaints about a certain product or feature. By using a CTQ tree, businesses are able to improve satisfaction and drive sales.

A CTQ tree is used to help a business see problems that customers are having with a product. This information is usually pulled from surveys or consistent complaints or requests from customers that show a high interest or disinterest in a feature or product as a whole. Once a problem is found, the CTQ tree begins.

The first part of the CTQ tree is a need. For example, if a product is considered too heavy, then a need would be to lighten its weight. If there is a specific reason why the weight needs to be lightened — for example, if the product's customers are elderly and find it difficult to lift or use the item — then that information would also be added to this first section.


Next on the CTQ tree is the reason, or driver, for changing the product. For example, convenience would be listed in this section. Any problems with changing the product, such as if the product is a computer and making it lighter would decrease its power, are also highlighted in this area. This section helps the business see any reasons for the problem, along with any potential problems in changing the product.

The last section of a CTQ tree is how to resolve the problem. Changing product terms, removing parts or using lighter materials would be highlighted here. For each driver, there must be a resolution to help the product and improve customer satisfaction.

While the tree focuses on current customers and their concerns, another reason to use a CTQ tree is to drive sales with new customers. This is done on two fronts. When a business improves a product, new customers will be more likely to purchase the product. Another reason is that a business willing to listen to its customers is usually trusted more than a company that ignores customers’ needs and complaints.


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Post 2

@Mammmood - Yeah, if you’re working in software development you probably have to put out new program updates all the time.

The only situation where I imagine you would need the methodical approach of a CTQ diagram or some other quality control process is if you’re going back to the drawing board, and coming up with a new release or something like that.

I’ve gone through quality control courses before and attempted to apply what I learned at work. The only problem was that in the end, the QT tool only told me what I already knew.

I agree with you that there are probably different methods to arrive at what you need to change, although the CTQ tool is probably a good tool if you’ve never done any quality control analysis before.

Post 1

I think that the use of CTQs would lead to better product improvement. I do wonder, however, how much of this analysis could be derived through other methods. Put simply, customers are telling us in any number of ways what’s wrong with our products.

I work in the software industry, and we hear all the time if there are bugs with the software or if there exists a need for enhancements of one sort or another.

What we do is aggregate all of the customer requests and complaints in a list, and from these we extrapolate big picture ideas which would solve those problems. For example, we may conclude from part of our list that a better interface is needed.

Perhaps this process resembles CTQ in some sense, but I think we have to adapt to customer demands a lot more quickly than if we were manufacturing an assembly line product.

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