At the heart of the very purpose of striving for organizational excellence is the customer. For Abu Dhabi’s public sector, all of the public—all citizens and residents of the UAE—comprise “the customer.” Organizational excellence, in specific, exceeding expectations in the delivery of public services, has become a key priority of the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and is fundamental in the government’s aim to become among the top ten performing governments in the world.
Excellence Enablers are the surest route to achieving your desired customer results. Prior to taking any actiontoward the specific results you want to achieve, they need to be mapped out so the firm has a clear set of goals and targets. Outcomes of actual results can then be measured against these planned targets to ascertain whether the organization is on the right track. This will guide the firm in actions that need to be taken in order to accomplish those customer experience goals.
In this article, we will outline the road to excellent customer results and examine the surest way to a delightful customer experience.
Performance indicators are a set of measures that help a firm monitor progress toward success and make intelligent decisions leading to improvement. They are linked to desired outcomes and indicate whether specific goals are being met. Performance indicators for customer results can help determine the successful deployment of a firm’s customer strategies and associated policies.
Performance indicators are crucial for any organization operating in the 21st century. These indicators enable decision makers to gauge organizational performance, predict future trends, and make adjustments and improvements along the way. Key indicators for customer results include, among many other facets, the quantity and value of sales and associated statistical measures, quality and value of products and services, delivery effectiveness, customer perceptions, customer service and after sale support, the number of total and new customers, complaints and compliments, as well as external recognitions such as awards and accolades. All of these can be used to indicate the level of customer satisfaction and how this vital business asset can be improved.
Setting clear targets aligned with customers’ needs benefits a firm not only in the short run, but enables it to achieve results that help build customer loyalty and other long-term benefits. When these targets are clearly defined and communicated across all levels of the organization, employees will align their efforts towards clear and common goals, creating the energy and momentum required to reach organizational targets.
By considering the organizational strategy, one can help move the organization in accord with them through the design of specific targets.The Abu Dhabi Healthcare Services Authority (SEHA) for example, seeks to “develop the infrastructure required to support/achieve world class standards for healthcare delivery” as part of their strategic objectives. One ofthespecific, measurable targets towards this goal isdecreased patient wait time.They have achievedthis goal through the use of a waiting area analysisdashboard thatidentifies and measures causes of service delays. By identifying root causes, management can evaluate and resolve the most pressing problemsquickly. For this,SEHA received theCerner Achievement Innovation Award for the category ofAchievement and Innovation in Patient Care Delivery in Departmental Experience in 2014, an achievement largely attributed to setting clear targets for customer results.
Achieving excellent customer results is only one small part of the victory. At the heart of Organizational Excellence are the concepts of sustainability and continuous improvement; for an organization to truly claim the mark of “Excellence,” sustaining excellent customer results over time is key.
In order to demonstrate excellent results, it is essential for an organization to continuously measure and monitor customer related performance indicators, all the while revising targets and refining customer service processes and systems.
Customer trends can indicate a number of things for a firm. Staying abreast of customer trends—their preferences, tastes, behaviors, and buying patterns—is vital for organizations that want to stay in tune with their customers’ needs and desires. Understanding these trends and the underlying causes that drive them is crucial in figuring out exactly how they may affect your organization.
Excellent organizations use customer analytics and market data to make future predictions and anticipate the results and outcomes that will be achieved in coming months and years. Based on these predictions, an organization can revise strategic goalsand improve related processes.
In addition to customer data and trends, organizations need to stay in the loop with economic trends and market changes that can directly or indirectly affect their business. Annual and quarterly performance reports are invaluablein comparing past with current results in order to formulate performance trends. By plotting these trends against external factors such as price inflation, newly acquired partnerships, resource constraints, developments in technology, and changes in the workforce, the firm’s management can make informed predictions of what the coming years might bring.
Performance driven organizations always look at external benchmarks and international standards for inspiration.In selecting your benchmarks, it is important to ensure suitability and relevance by selecting organizations that share similar organizational mandates, structures, and environmental conditions. This will help to ensure that your benchmarks will be realistic and attainable. Challenging your organization to meet benchmark performance targets is an effective way to ignite organizational improvement. We find aprime local example of benchmarking at the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority which takes part in various programs that help it compare its lab accuracy and performance with international standards. This allows them to make improvements over time to reach and even exceed these standards.
Naturally, not all customers are the same.An organization, especially one in the public sector, has a wide range of customers spread over various ethnic, gender, social, income, and age groups. All these market segments have their own specific needs and expectations. It is important for your organization to define relevant market segments and then decide the best way to fulfill each group’s needs and desires.
The use of customer satisfaction surveys and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are great for segmenting customer results and improving the understanding of the behaviour of customer groups. The data collected using these tools can then be used in the development of a holistic marketing strategy to attract, retain, and delight all your customer segments.
As public sector entities become increasingly performance driven and competitive, it is important to draw on private sector experience and insights, particularly when it comes to customer service and ultimately, customer “delight.”
A customer is delighted when he or shereceives a holistic customer experience, one that satisfies all expectations and desires. To delight a customer, organizations need to focus on delivery of threekey experiences:
This experience is felt by the customer as part of the functional features of the core product or service offering. The fundamental nature of the product is what fulfills the customer’s desire and need; it is the basic reason he or she looked for and purchased the product or service. The firm’s basic responsibility, then, is to ensure the products or services meet the customers’ quality and value expectations.
The social experience developsmuch earlier than the functional in the customer’s journey toward the product or service. It starts with the very first time the customer begins their search for various service providers and product offerings to identify and shortlist the best provider to finally buy from. This involves research done over the internet, social and printmedia, as well as feedback and opinions of friendsand family who might have already purchased or are using a similar product.
Make sure your customers find positive, helpful information about your product or service where they seek it. Create a positive social experience for potential customers by ensuring information is prominent and easily available, with relevant information, evidence of high brand integrity, and positive feedback across all avenues.
The emotional experience is the most subtle of the three, yet carries the most powerful effect. It has the ability to influence every major decision includingfirst-time purchase, repurchase, and continued usage. On the other side of the coin, it also may affect or determine whether a customer or client decides to terminate use of the product or service. Thus a vitally important aspect is how yourproduct and/or service makes the customer feel. Does itengender a positive association in the mind of the customer? Doyour customers feel apersonalized experience that ultimately leads to long term bondingand brand loyalty?
Make your customers feel good about using your products and services and ensure that your customers are delighted with your brand at every step of their customer experience journey!