Creating a Customer-Centered Culture

Article

Lawton, Robin L.   (1987, ASQC)   Innovative Management Technologies, Inc., Bloomington, MN

41st Annual Quality Congress, May 1987, Minneapolis, MN    Vol. 41    No. 0
QICID: 3330    May 1987    pp. 430-435
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Article Abstract

High performance companies are intensely customer-centered. They know who the customer is. They know what the customer needs and how to keep up with changing expectations. Achieving and maintaining superb quality of service is a major cultural value shared by everyone. It is the force behind innovation.Increased competition favors customer-centered organizations. Unfortunately, many companies continue to have a producer-centered orientation. Products and services are created and modified for the convenience of the producer. Ultimately, customers will take their business elsewhere.This presentation has been developed to help managers begin the cultural change process. Emphasis is on the concepts and methods required to enable a collaborative relationship between producers and customers which will result in sustained competitive leadership.Innovative strategies for improving business performance have had their roots in manufacturing. Although a wealth of experience has been acquired on the effectiveness of these strategies, little has been successfully transferred to service companies and white collar functions.Current performance improvement programs for white collar and professional functions have included quality circles, suggestion programs, and probelm-solving training. While these efforts have achieved some success, their impact has been limited. As a result, organizations have seena succession of programs which are marginally effective and difficult to sustain. The principle reasons for this include:- Fundamental management thinking and practices remain unchanged.- Focus is on problems, cost reduction, and efficiency (rather than on "products" and effectiveness).- Team development leaves middle management on the sidelines.- Strategies are high on participation but low on analytical skill training.- Responsibility for implementation is fragmented.- Quantitative evidence of program impact on quality, productivity, and profitability is limited.- Management commitment is tenuous.The rapid increase in domestic and international competition, coupled with deregulation, makes corporate survival dependent upon applying effective long-term solutions to performance improvement. The Total Performance Management (TPM) model used in this presentation offers such a solution.Selected results of using these methods will be presented from the following examples:- Accounting: Identified systematic invoice errors causing over $750,000 per year in unnecessary costs. Enabled accuracy to be more than doubled within two months of this finding.- Customer Service: Identified a declining trend in quality of service which threatened business survival. Findings contributed to the development of a company-wide quality improvement effort.- Human Resources: Improved the performance of a state corrections facility by reducing process time by 80%, reducing facility coasts by 50%, making major improvements in quality of services.Improved product definition and process performance in a training organization which resulted in a 30% reduction of the administrator-to-student ratio.- Marketing & Sales: Streamlined telesales processes, contributing to a 50% improvement in productivity in one year.Created requirements for an integrated measurement system to manage quality, quantity, cost, timeliness, and revenue while improving data accuracy.

Keywords

Human resources (HR),Quality management (QM)


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