Page 2: Customer focused
Standard Life, like many traditional British organisations, was based on a top down hierarchical approach. Managers relayed instructions down through the chain of command. Today, this is no longer appropriate. Modern service workers deal directly with customers and they require confident interpersonal skills to develop one-to one relationships with customers. People who are well trained, supported by a range of processes and quality
information technology systems, are now considered an organisation’s most valuable asset.
Standard Life operates within an increasingly competitive market where customers are becoming more discerning and demanding. In a service economy, a company must be customer focused. By satisfying customers, strong financial performance will follow. To do so, the people within the organisation must be committed to meeting customers’ expectations and - over time - exceeding them.
Total Customer Satisfaction
Total Customer Satisfaction was the name given to the management process created by the Senior Executive team. It defined how the operations of the company should be run to achieve the goal of customer satisfaction. The following objectives underpinned the framework and content of the management process:
- focus on and be driven by customer needs
- introduce a culture of continuous improvement
- create a new management philosophy.
Three segments run throughout this framework. Standard Life’s new management process aims to focus simultaneously on customers, processes and people. It is based on continuous improvement with the aim of achieving fully and exceeding the expectations of customers. The way in which the initiative has been designed – regardless of being termed a ‘management process’ - ensures involvement of people at all levels of the organisation and promotes the commitment necessary to create effective organisational change. Some of the immediate changes implemented as a result of applying the management process in practice follow.
To enable Standard Life to better understand its external customers’ needs, it needed to undertake more research amongst the staff who had contact with them. It set up a marketing division to carry out much more rigorous market research to help the organisation look ahead and keep its product ranges in line with changing customer expectations. The research also facilitated the construction of customer satisfaction indices, so that satisfaction with Standard Life’s current products and services was measured. These highlight Standard Life’s performance against issues which were important to its customers and assist the organisation to set priorities and targets for change.