Normally, a reviewer should be able to write their entire analysis of a Baldrige Resource Library article in one blog.
However, when it’s the case of Robin Lawton’s “The 8 Dimensions of Excellence” which is chock-full of lists, graphics, charts and more pastels than a “Miami Vice” rerun, I would do a disservice to the author and the reader if I limited it to just one 600+-word review. There’s just too much here.
So, I’m splitting it into two parts to be fair. Now, let’s get started.
It’s all about the customer, right? Right. Without them, there is no business. Seems nonsensical, yes, but many companies could use some advice in that area. Lawton’s article gives us insight into how we can meet the deisred results for our customers and the first four (4) dimensions are the following:
- Customer-desired outcomes
- Undesired outcomes customers want to avoid or eliminate
- Product and service characteristics customers want
- Product acquisition processes customers want
Lawton begins the article with this statement:
Which of the three topics would customers say is most important and
the primary reason they come to your enterprise? Yes, it’s all about
outcomes. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, customers are not loyal to
products; they’re loyal to results. We tend to measure process performance
much more intensively than the outcomes customers experience.
Despite our stated desire to be customer focused, what we truly
value gets measured. The pursuit of excellence makes change possible.
From this premise, the author shows us in a diagram describing the “Customer Priorities” and the “Producer Priorities” and how they should match up. Ironically, what stands out most from the diagram is that customers are on top. How often has it seemed to you and me, customers that is, that it’s the other way around?
When it’s the reverse, the customer’s loyalty changes and they bolt for the competition. The customer approaches your business for a product and when they don’t get what they want they leave. It’s really about outcomes. If you don’t meet them you’re done.
So what are those undesired outcomes? In Dimension Number 2, a brief list is given:
Debt, discomfort, wasted time, frustration and
exclusion are outcomes customers want to avoid.
That’s a pretty short list but it covers the lowlights of a bad customer experience pretty well. I can relate to wasted time and frustration as a customer such as the time we waited forever in line at the big box home improvement store as they corrected the purchase price of our front door. We waited so long, in fact, the embarrassed store manager gave us free installation.
Purchase saved and expectations met. We have returned to the same store many times since then.
Which leads to the next point: What, then, are the products and service characteristics customers do want? In Dimension Number 3, he says outright that we need to eliminate the term “service” and just include it as part of your “product” using these criteria:
Service has no obvious units of measure. It suggests activity with verbs such as help, assist, provide and support. Products intuitively suggest things (nouns) that can be counted.
Anything we call a product must meet these few criteria:
- You can make it plural.
- It is a deliverable you can give to someone.
- It occurs in countable units.
Pretty radical thinking since most of us separate the two but he has a point. It simplifies it and now I even look at my own business differently and see that everything I offer as a product. It meets all of the criteria. Examine your own business, it probably meets them, too.
(From this product criteria, he has a list of “9 Facts about Products”. It’s worth noting but there is no space to review it here.)
Lastly, Dimension Number 4: Create product acquisition processes customers want.
The best way I can summarize it here is this: Make your product process purchase streamlined and easy for the customer. (i.e. Amazon.com) They will keep coming back. The more steps you add to the acquisition of your product, the less likely they will return.
Four dimensions done. The next four dimensions and the conclusion of my review coming up in Part 2: “The 8 Dimensions of Excellence”.