In the Baldrige Criteria, “customer” is broadly defined as “actual and potential users of your organization’s products, programs, or services.” No matter what your organization does, it has customers: consumers, purchasers, patients, physicians, students, parents, constituents, etc.
In previous articles we listed 10 critical questions you can ask about leadership, strategic planning, and key strengths and opportunities for improvement. As we noted, the best way to evaluate your management system is through a Baldrige assessment using the Baldrige Criteria. You can find out how to do that here.
The Criteria consist of powerful questions, rarely asked, about how an organization functions. If you cannot do a full assessment but want insight into how to improve your customer focus, here are 10 critical questions to ask and answer:
- What are your key customer groups or market segments and what does each group/segment require of your organization?
- How do you determine which groups/segments to serve?
- How do you determine the requirements of each group/segment?
- How do you identify and innovate products, programs, and/or services to meet these requirements and exceed expectations?
- How do you support your products, programs, and/or services and enable your customers to seek information and utilize them?
- How do you create an organizational culture that ensures a consistently positive customer experience and contributes to customer engagement?
- How do you build and manage relationships with your customers?
- How do you listen to your customers to get feedback on your products, programs, services, and support, including managing complaints and determining customer dissatisfaction?
- How do you determine customer satisfaction and engagement, including satisfaction with your competitors or other benchmarks?
- How do you use the customer information described in answers to the questions above to evaluate current and future customer groups and their requirements and to build a more customer-focused culture?
To read the world-class responses of Baldrige Award recipients to these questions, click here and then click on the award application summary you wish to review. Begin with the response to P.1b(2) in the Organizational Profile to see who the organization serves and these customers’ requirements, then go to Category 3, Customer Focus, to find out how it engages its customers for long-term success.