Investing in the Client

Beyond “Satisfaction”
Competition is the fiber of business and with it comes higher expectations. The goal is to go beyond customer “satisfaction” to customer “happiness” or “delight.” Whatever the action word, the focus must be on customers so they not only return but refer others. It is crucial to understand customer needs and expectations while striving to continuously exceed those expectations. Generating a sense of customer “delight” via product excellence, world-class support, and continuous communication is essential. Ensuring client success requires hard work, commitment, and an investment of time and capital to support client solutions. That investment is worth the effort.
Fruitful Communication
Effective communication with all key players, including external stakeholders, is a critical component of success. All forms of open, fact-based communication should be employed with team members, subordinates, board members, shareholders, bond holders, venders, and all employees. This goes a long way to ensure everyone understands the strategy and objectives as well as the company’s challenges and progress towards these goals. Communication tools should include face-to-face meetings, newsletters, video conferences, blogs, employee letters, management meetings, skip-level meetings, and conference calls.
Engaging the hearts and minds of all members of the workforce can be very powerful in coping with the fast-shifting realities of the business climate. Without sufficient empowerment, critical information about quality sits unused in workers’ minds and the energy to implement changes lies dormant. Quality should never be compromised. Standards must be set and rigorously measured; action must be taken to improve performance. Accurate reporting is essential in monitoring reworks, rejects, and process integrity. Effective analyses allow for improvement of processes and enhancement of services based on customer demand. Customers expect perfection and will pay for it. The investment made in quality will yield results through reduced rework, scrap, and customer satisfaction.
In today’s technology-savvy culture, simply investing in software-based technology to improve customer response, operational performance, and profitability is not enough. Consideration must be given to the business process owners who will ultimately determine its implementation and effectiveness. Rather than being the answer, technology is merely the means for carrying out tasks that will allow personnel to utilize their cognitive skills rather than their physical skills. Their jobs should stimulate their interest and cause them to think about improving the quality, the product, the process, and the customer experience.
Establishing Operational Excellence
Establishing and leveraging a foundation of operational excellence is critical to sustained value creation regardless of the type of business. This can be accomplished through initiatives and tools that include focused, cost-effective lean and six sigma process improvement tools, supply chain optimization, business process reengineering, top-grading, and strategically-focused improvement initiatives.
Building a Brand Provides Business Impetus
The company’s brand image should be a constant focus. Surveying key customers to gain their insights can be a valuable tool in building and maintaining a brand image. It can be a grave mistake to become too internally focused on this key activity and lose touch with the very important impressions of key constituents—the customers. Zeroing in on first identifying and then giving customers what they need will keep the momentum going.

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