Last week we looked at an example of a manager trying to reduce the number of complaints about the financial reports their department produces monthly for managers throughout their organisation.
This week we look at reviewing objectives and developing strategies...
This is the point at which an organisation commits itself to achieving its objectives by developing appropriate strategies. (The four Cs framework may be useful here.)
This stage of the planning process flows directly from the SWOT analysis. Similarly, from the perspective of your personal action plan to improve customer satisfaction, what you do in the first three stages (see Figure 4.3) should help you clarify what it is appropriate and feasible to aim for. You may find you need to look again at your original objectives in the light of the audit and the SWOT analysis you have carried out.
This is not unusual. We will look at the programme of activities in a moment. However, sometimes it is difficult to see the distinction between objectives, strategies and the programme of activities.
You may come across a number of different names for a programme of activities: some people call it tactics, others call it plans. The choice of word is not important; what is important is the meaning attached to the words, and the stage in the planning process when these programmes or plans are put together.
It may be helpful to think of them in this way:
There is no point deciding on your means of transport (your programme of activities) before you have decided on your route (your strategy), and equally you need to know your destination (objective) before you can work out the route (strategy).
Each is important, but there is a sequence in their development. This does not mean that you cannot revise your strategy in the light of what is feasible in your plan; however, you should see that it is important to consider these in the order given here if your overall objective is to be achieved.
The following activity forms a central component of this session's aims. It builds on the three stages above and uses the four Cs framework to help you define the objectives you could set for improving customer satisfaction in your own organisation, and what strategies would help you achieve those objectives.
The programme of activities
The programme of activities sets out who will do what, when they will do it and how. Budgets, processes and structures need to match the programme of activities. Detailed programmes of activities form the important implementation part of a good plan.
For the purpose of your personal action plan to improve customer satisfaction, what matters is to take account of the fact that you cannot improve it completely on your own. You will need to talk to, work with and influence colleagues.
We can interpret this component of the plan to mean the process of deciding whom you will need to work with to achieve the objectives you set. An important aspect of this part of the process is helping to ensure that a customer orientation is developed. Organisations become responsive only when their front-line employees become responsive, as the following example shows:
Them and us
An architectural and design practice was worried about the number of companies that had terminated their work with the practice. So the managers organised two surveys. The first was of 36 staff working in 11 organisations which had stopped using the practice. The other was with the practice’s own 150 staff.
The results shocked the managers, who had clearly failed to foster a customer orientation in their staff. Staff perceptions of what the practice was good and bad at were completely at odds with the perceptions of the customers’ staff. The staff’s understanding of customers was poor partly because they rarely met them. This, combined with the managers’ practice of keeping the staff in the dark, contributed to an attitude of 'why should I care?' on the part of the employees.
Now, after a fundamental reassessment of management styles, the staff have been given the responsibility, the authority and, most important, the information they need to respond to the customers' problems. This has increased customer satisfaction and employee morale, and has led to increased business.
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