The gravel voiced Dr Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, said: "Experiencing University politics made me long for the tranqu...
Sunday, 1 September 2013
Think You Know How Good You Are? It’s the Customer’s Opinion That Matters More!
From time to time I attend a clinic (NHS) for a minor test
and it occurred to me recently that they are a demonstrable example of truly
excellent customer focus.
Odd and encouraging that the NHS which takes quite a lot of
flak these days should be the ones who demonstrate how easily an organisation
can achieve genuinely high standards of customer focus and care should they so
Let me explain.I
went to the clinic last week courtesy of my wife who dropped me off there.We left the house at 7.55am so that I could sign
in early for the 8.00am start.
I was treated with efficiency, courtesy, friendliness and
above all professionalism and having had the test and walked to the taxi rank,
I was back in the house at precisely 8.30am.
This suited me fine as I had a 9.00am appointment for a
one-to-one and it gave me time to get organised for the day ahead.
The whole point is that, in the end, whatever we are doing
which depends on an interaction with others, it is their perception of good
service which matters and no ours.
Just to put the NHS into perspective, yet another report this
week discusses patient satisfaction levels with hospital catering and nearly
50% of those surveyed said that the food was not up to an acceptable standard.
The relevant hospital authorities, on the other hand, had
surveyed catering standards internally and had awarded marks of four or five
(out of five) in almost every case.
Who is right?It
certainly isn’t the NHS in this case as what they considered very good or even
excellent had not been confirmed in any way by the people being asked to eat
The problem in industry and business in general is that we
are too inward looking, too exercised with what we see as acceptable or
outstanding and not in any way too concerned about the ultimate arbiter, the
I am not an enthusiast for surveys directly asking the
customer if they were satisfied with the product or the service as usually
there is a tendency not to be over truthful.
There are, however, some good and real methods to test
customer perceptions and a great leader will want to know exactly what they are
thinking and consequently how likely are they to continue as a customer or
One technique that I like is the follow-up request for
information on “how did we do?” after a sale.Never more than five and preferably three questions will suffice and
provided there is a large enough sample of respondents, the statistical result
should be well within acceptable level of error.
That works well with consumers and there are other methods
which would apply well in B2B situations.
For example, always ask the question of the individual who
actually uses or has specified the product or service as they will be the ones
whose job will be on the line (they think) if it all goes badly.
On an overall basis, the leader should be the one who checks
personally and constantly on “how are we doing?” with the customers.They very act of asking the question by the
top person will help to elicit the right answer and will also show the customer
that you mean business.
By the way, the leader should always be the one who sees all
complaints so that an overall sense of what needs to be changed to improve the
situation can be developed.
Customer focus is the most important aspect of any business
or professional practice.Don’t fall
into the trap of thinking that you know the answer; always assume that the customer’s
opinion is both different and far more important.
Remember, the second order is more important than the first.
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