How to achieve and sustain outstanding levels of performance: Adding value for customers

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On behalf of the British Quality Foundation (BQF), Jamie Burton, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Manchester Business School, has conducted an extensive research project into contemporary business practices to explore what excellence looks and feels like, and how it benefits business.

The third volume of the series explores how four organisations deal with customer experience, customer engagement and customer effort.

All of the organisations engage their customers in a variety of ways, utilising them to help with improvement processes, understanding their needs through the use of focus groups and involving them in steering groups and management boards. These close working relationships help organisations to deliver the relevant services to customers, often anticipating needs and minimising customer effort.

The organisations and their customers

  • Circle Housing Wherry, is a not-for profit housing association, that focuses on customer engagement and involvement. Adding value for customers and improving customer engagement and satisfaction levels is not a driver for additional customers, but a way of increasing employability of tenants and encouraging community involvement. “We’re interested in the sustainability of the community and the tenancy. So it’s no good us just offering that basic service” says Jared Myers, Head of Housing, Sustainable Communities.
  •  For Interserve Construction, the UK construction arm of Interserve Plc., the focus is on understanding the customer and ensuring projects are delivered taking into account customer requirements, whether they are explicit or not. “The closer an organisation can get to the client’s language, the better it is” explains Michelle Curran, Head of Corporate Business Development. Stepping outside of a natural comfort zone and communicating in the client’s style requires additional effort for any organisation.
  •  Tarmac waterproofing specialists JPCS track the activity of key customers on their corporate website to provide insight into what might be of interest, anticipating needs before they are articulated. Coupled with a structured customer visit schedule, this information allows MD, Peter Shone, to develop customer relationships and cross-sell other products and services when they are relevant.
  • Providing information to customers is the prime focus of water utility provider Northumbrian Water, which aims to be as informative and transparent as possible for its customers and the local community. Signage, text messages and internet services all help enable an effective communications strategy. Engaged customers also act as the eyes of the organisation, helping to monitor remote stretches of rivers and streams where the company has overflow outlets.

A Northern launch event will take place on 13 October 2015 at Manchester Business School. Look out for more details coming soon or to reserve a place contact amanda.allbright@bqf.org.uk

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Manchester Business School has a global reputation for innovative and influential teaching and research, which impacts business on a local, national and international level. We call this Original Thinking Applied.

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