The long-term profitability and success of any organisation is driven by customer satisfaction – total satisfaction with the goods and services provided. This has to extend throughout the customer at all levels and in all functions. Purchasers, users, and others must have an impression of being delighted to deal with the supplier. The interface between a supplier and a customer rarely touches at only one point. It is essential therefore that the individuals in the supplier at all these areas where the two companies meet are comfortable, competent and conscientious about bringing about the best outcome from their dealings.
In truly customer-driven organisations, all staff, regardless of function or seniority, have an appreciation of customers and their concerns, and can target their work to best fulfil customer needs.
However, as organisations grow and mature, it is easy for functional and internal concerns to become dominant, to the extent that the customers’ needs can become subservient to the internal needs and pressures of the organisation.
Re-establishment of customers as the key priority for all staff will not happen by exhortation: a programme of activities, carefully tailored to suit the sponsoring organisation, is required to deliver this.
The main short-term benefit of such a programme is to foster an organisation in which each individual is aware of the contribution that he or she can make to fulfilling customer needs.
When combined with work to ensure that products and business processes are optimised, substantial improvements in customer satisfaction and competitive advantage can be achieved.
The Improvement Programme
The programme works at three levels:
- Basic Customer Knowledge
- Deeper Customer Understanding
- Customer Partnership
The depth and pace of each stage need to be adjusted to suit different groups of staff, but a typical programme may include the following:
Executive Team Leadership
setting the standards of customer focus for the organisation, exhibiting role-model behaviour, and recognising outstanding performance in customer focus
conveying customer information to the heart of the organisation
allowing all staff to gain a basic understanding of their key customers
Customer Focus Teams
facilitating multi-functional teams to explore customer issues, in depth, with the customer
Training and Development
equipping more staff to interact more successfully with customers
To support the organisational change programme, a measurement technique has been devised to monitor the changes in knowledge, behaviour and attitudes towards customers.