All organizations have customers. Regardless of profit or not-for-profit status, irrespective of the field of endeavor or business, all organizations deliver a product to a customer.
To effectively serve their customers, organizations need to understand their customers’ needs and expectations, determine how and to what extent they’ve met those requirements, and decide how to respond when things don’t go according to plan.
It’s simple: Know what your customer wants, deliver it, and find out how well you did. Unfortunately, it’s not simply a matter of asking, “Is the customer happy?” To arrive at the answer to that question, it’s important to know what the customer really wants (as opposed to what the customer says he or she wants), what is expected beyond the stated requirements, what things matter most, who are the most reliable individuals to approach for information, and when and how often to reach out for the requisite feedback.
This challenge is particularly daunting for small organizations. Resources are stretched, and individuals frequently wear multiple hats. Along with these internal challenges, organizations face the reality that customer expectations are constantly changing. This isn’t a probability; it’s a certainty. Not only do customer specifications get revised, but the ever-accelerating pace of technological innovations also ratchets up customers’ expectations. What may have been exciting to a customer three years ago is now considered a basic expectation. What delighted customers yesterday barely touches the threshold of customer satisfaction today.
Most of the tools in the marketplace, such as customer surveys, are often irrelevant, burdensome, and/or ineffective for small organizations. To fulfill requirements relating to analyzing customer feedback, many small organizations attempt to adapt tools that are more appropriate for larger organizations. For example, they develop customer surveys. The resulting responses rarely help management to glean meaningful information about the customers’ perspective of the supplier’s performance and ultimately fail to provide the input management needs to make strategic decisions.
This book provides simple but effective tools to help small organizations better understand what their customers want and how to assess how well they are fulfilling their customers’ expectations. You’ll learn the tools necessary to gain a better understanding of the processes that allow both them and your customers to succeed.
Denise Robitaille is the author of numerous books on various quality topics. She is an internationally recognized speaker who brings years of experience in business and industry to her work in the quality profession. Denise is vice chair of the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 176, the committee responsible for updating the ISO 9000 family of standards. She is also a RABQSA-certified lead assessor, an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor, and a fellow of ASQ.
As the principal of Robitaille Associates she has helped numerous companies in diverse fields to achieve ISO 9001 registration and to improve their quality management systems. She has conducted training courses for thousands of individuals on such topics as corrective action, management review, auditing, document control and implementing ISO 9001.