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David Mulvihill MFG 333; Dr.

Nguyen Case Study #1 10/19/13

Seven Keys to Improving Customer Satisfaction Programs


(Michael Garver & Gary Gagnon)

The Seven Keys to Improving Customer Satisfaction composed by Garver and Gagnon describes seven key fundamentals relating to increasing Customer Value and Satisfaction. The seven fundaments covered in the article are; a customer focused culture, getting support from management, listening to the customer, training employees, linking performance to quality, identifying improvement opportunities and evaluating performance of quality improvements. From my experience in the manufacturing industry the three key elements customers seek are; cheap price, high quality and good service. Ultimately the price is always the final deciding factor for consumers. In regards to pricing it is a common misconception that an increase in quality results in an increase in production cost. If the seven elements identified in the paper are carried out in an efficient manner customer satisfaction and profit will increase. It cannot get any more rudimentary then the fact that businesses stay profitable because they have customers whom purchase their product/service. If a business has no new or returning customers the obviously it will not be around for long. In result having a customer focused culture only makes sense. In result a business to be successful their primary goal needs to focus on continuously increasing customer satisfaction. However a business culture based on quality products and customer satisfaction does not come easily. People are by nature are self-centered, always trying to improve their economic standing at the expense of others. This can lead to businesses naturally skipping steps trying to cut costs, often resulting in lower quality. The immediate reward of lower quality and decrease production costs can attract every business. However the customer needs to be given priority over immediate return in order to establish long term financial well being. Basic economics states that without investing in capital a business will not have the resources it needs in the future to stay operational. Customers need to be thought of as capital, an increasingly valuable resource. In order for the customer value culture to function it needs to be pushed from the top down, initiated with executive support persistence and intensity. If the CEO does not support the idea of Customer Values and Satisfaction then the organization will not be able to establish this imperative culture. The CEO needs to constantly circle back to the fact that customer satisfaction is equal in importance to increased profits. If a company is lead purely with emphasis on profit

David Mulvihill MFG 333; Dr. Nguyen Case Study #1 10/19/13

then it is only natural for management and workers to cut corners at the customers expense. The only way to fully achieve customer satisfaction is by utilizing a set of customer listening tools. It is quoted in the article Many participants noted that deep customer understanding is a source of competitive advantage. Without knowing what the customers wants how can a business provide what is in demand. From my experience listening to customers can be a very profitable tool. A business will be extremely successful if it is able to provide exactly what the customer wants and nothing that they dont. Having a deep understanding of the customer allows a business to cut waste and possibly add features to attract more investors/customers. The most basic utilized tool which was noted in the article is surveys. This can be done very inexpensively and informally by simply talking with customers in passing, taking them out to lunch or just sending a satisfaction check list in e-mail. Any information which one can pull from their customers is very valuable, especially when arranged in such a way that patterns can be identified. The information extracted from these patterns can be used to further refine products, processes, services and training. Customer feedback needs to also be used to identify future consumer needs in order to give a business competitive advantages over competitors. This article also referenced the use of benchmark surveys. The benchmark approach consists of using data collected from the industry such that one can compare their business performance to others. When the data is collected it can be used to identify strengths or weaknesses in an organization. These surveys should always have emphasis on quality and customer satisfaction in order to collect information for employee training. Training employees on Customer Value and Satisfaction is the only way to make a proficient quality system function. In order to convince employees of the importance several studies involving customer satisfaction and financial rewards need to be shown. This is most easily conducted by analyzing the data collected from surveys, identify how work processes can be change and make obvious the positive financial impacts to the employees. As stated earlier people are naturally selfish, in result there has to be a clear connection between customer satisfaction and employee benefit. It is quite often that the employees already know of ways to improving the product and satisfaction. They just need a small push to share their views. Once employees are made fully aware of the importance regarding customer satisfaction and its necessity, their specialization should be used collect ideas. This can be easily completed by brain storming in groups. Bain storming has optimal results

David Mulvihill MFG 333; Dr. Nguyen Case Study #1 10/19/13

when a diverse group of employees gather at a round table and sound out ideas related to a topic of improvement. The setting of a round table suggests that everyone is equal, giving people more confidence in their position and ideas. Brain storming is best complete if everyone is required to participate in the session, preferably working around the circle speaking one at a time. These sessions will help identify internal quality observations for comparison with information provided by customers. This process will allow an organization to identify processes that need improvement. Improving a process does not come without costs. One of the most restricting issues companies face is their limited resources. In order to resourcefully improve customer satisfaction there has to be a definitive process selected in order to efficiently allocate assets. It is recommended in the article that a simple table is used to recognize the importance and profitability of each possible improvement. A simple table will help illustrate which opportunities are most injurious to the profits and customer values. Once it has been identified which items of improvement are of most importance then the time period for return in investment needs to be considered. Changing an organizations processes or mind-set never seems to be as easy as first perceived. There is a great deal of resources involved with process improvements and establishing changes permanently into the work culture. As the article identifies it needs to be demined if it is currently feasible for the organization to take on the process change. Before resources are allocated for improvement a study regarding the availability of required knowledge/rescores for the task needs to be completed. It then has to be identified if this knowledge exists in the company or if investing in the knowledge will perceivably give at least an equal return. The possibility of outsourcing the required expertise should also be considered. Once it has been identified what resources are available and required for the improvement, the next step is to complete a cost/benefit analysis. Changing the processes of an organization to get the desired improvement and return can often be difficult. It is common that management teams of organizations consist of a lot of gray hairs. This is often the case because of the natural upward in status progression based on individuals time in the company. Nonetheless the conception of older people resisting change is not a misconception. In addition to Gray Hairs people in general get comfortable with the current system they are using and resist change. Change requires effort on everyones part in the system. This effort is often comparable to quitting a bad habit, such as smoking. An initial push needs to be made to get the change initiated in the organization. Once instated the process change needs to be reviewed at set time intervals to determine if it is still being utilized. It is

David Mulvihill MFG 333; Dr. Nguyen Case Study #1 10/19/13

common for an organization to fall back to their old habits once the process is no longer under scrutiny. Performance of a process change needs to be measured at the end of every customer value project. In order for a company to continuously evolve there needs to be complete documentation on the successes and failures of past process improvements. History has a way of repeating itself throughout an organizations lifespan. This documentation can help deter or greatly influence the need for a process changes. In the documentation increase in profits needs to be directly associated to changes initiated by customer values. This type of history is an invaluable tool when training employees about the importance of customer values. The last step identified in the article, which is likely the most important, is rewarding CVS performance. Such as stated previously, people are naturally selfcentered in order to support of their own survival. If an organization has the ability to reward employees for increases in customer satisfaction then more employees will actively search for ways to improve their processes and quality. Quality products and customer satisfactions are imperative for a business to remain profitable. There are limited resources available in the economy, this naturally pushes consumers to look for the most durable and inexpensive goods. Knowledge of customer needs to be known to facilitate increased sales in decreased waste. If an organization allocates resources efficiently on behalf of gaining knowledge and increased training concerning customer values, a profitable future will be established.