Organisation development consultancy Echelon has developed a programme that is producing noticeable results as its clients win and retain more customers. To date, Echelon’s ‘service DNA’ programmes, focused on customer loyalty, have seen:
• A 2 per cent overall increase in passenger numbers for an organisation in the public transport sector.
• A 65 per cent increase in compliments and 40 per cent reduction in complaints sustained throughout 2008 by this same business.
• One NHS Trust - over two years - score significantly better on issues that mattered to patients.
• One Council consistently outperforming the top quartile for customer service performance by seven per cent.
• A 40 per cent increase in customer satisfaction for a logistics company.
• A 37 per cent increase in customer satisfaction for a client from the hotel sector.
• A client in the travel industry achieve 50 per cent lower staff turnover than its industry peers.
• Over 1,000 improvement ideas collected in three months from staff at one organisation in the health sector.
• Clients win National Training Awards, a UK Housing Award and a NHS Communications Award.
“Customer loyalty underpins business success at any time, but right now it could be the one thing that guarantees survival. We believe the key to creating and understanding customer loyalty is through the development of a detailed insight into customers’ specific expectations, mapping, if you like, the organisation’s service DNA,” said Jenny Hill, who heads up Echelon’s consultancy team.
“Understanding this DNA leads to the creation of a branded customer experience that not only increases customer loyalty but adds customer numbers through the power of advocacy. Wider benefits measured include a reduction in complaints, an increase in compliments and, in a competitive job market, reduced staff turnover.”
Key drivers of change that this programme considers include:
• Competition: the challenge of recognising and meeting continually shifting expectations and having the agility to recalibrate the organisation to retain a competitive edge.
• Customer service: the need to differentiate the business by continuously improving the customer experience by placing the customer at the centre of all activities designed to increase product quality and process productivity.
• Innovation: the culture of contributing, successfully exploiting new ideas, and having the organisational flexibility to launch new products and adjust service efficiently.
• Regulation: the ability to operate within legal and industry compliance frameworks, adapting to changing regulations.
• Information technology: the introduction and/or refinement of technology to drive and support performance improvement.
• Human resources: the recruitment, development, retention, performance management and support of the organisation’s people.
• Strategy: the transformation of the organisation through acquisition and merger, diversification or consolidation.
“Sustainable success in relation to any of these depends on people and process being closely aligned with strategy and having an adaptability to exploit opportunity,” said Echelon’s CEO, Alistair Morrison.
“We deploy a four-stage cycle of research, design, implement and sustain to ensure that the key needs of customers are understood clearly, by everyone, and that the most efficient procedures are followed to give customers exactly what they want. Each organisation has a different service DNA which may well vary between products and services. Successful delivery requires this DNA to be recognised and fulfilled by competent and motivated employees.”
“Service DNA is what your customers really want from your service and is dependent, in part, on the promises you make to them,” explained Jenny Hill. “What customers want is always specific and easily deliverable - but generally inconsistently applied across the business. But, once staff understand specific customer needs - and the positive effect consistent delivery of them can have on their jobs and relationships - they willingly embrace the adoption of their service DNA and keep up the good work with the help of simple reminders.”
Hill explained that Echelon’s service DNA approach is based on four straightforward but powerful drivers:
• Know who your customers are
• Research and understand the specific and frequently unique expectations customers have of your service.
• Ensure the service you deliver at all interfaces is consistent, because inconsistency is a key issue in customer defection.
• Keep your product/service fresh – by asking for specific customer feedback.
To deliver results from understanding your service DNA, she said, you must:
• Ensure all functions deliver the same branded experience - as consistency is crucial.
• Train all frontline people and ensure that this is sustained with regular work-based reinforcement – so that commonsense becomes common practice.
• Turn customers’ specific and practical expectations and experiences of service into regular internal communications which record the results.
About Echelon Learning Ltd
Echelon is an organisation development consultancy with a 20-year track record of delivering targeted communication, training and performance support solutions that really make a difference to corporate, government and not-for-profit organisations and professional bodies.
The company helps its clients create and sustain improved operational performance by developing high levels of employee engagement and competence that leverage their ability to achieve outstanding results, particularly in times of change.
Echelon publishes a wide range of business and management solutions that offer job support and lifelong career development.
Channel Tunnel Rail Link, London Overground Rail (LOROL), Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, Department of Work and Pensions, Festival Housing Association, NHS, Royal Town Planning Institute, T-Mobile, Translink.