February 25th 2008
For more than a decade the public sector has been undergoing what the NAO has described as the “biggest change management programme in the world”.
In the first 10 years the foundations for improved public services were established. Now – in the second decade – government seeks to continue its progress, and to create world-class services that respond to people’s rising aspirations, as well as global demands.
Underpinning the change is the drive to deliver better value through greater efficiency across the public sector, negotiating the challenge to meet bespoke customer needs in the face of real-term yearly budget cuts and stretching efficiency targets. To achieve this, organisations need to align internal business processes with customer processes and needs.
Customer research is instrumental in helping organisations understand the customer journey through the organisation, and how well processes, services and products help to provide what customers seek. Research can identify and evaluate each service “touchpoint” and customer channel to deliver insight and guidance on how to improve the customer experience, while simultaneously achieving efficiency gains during the change process.
One example of research to support change management and continuous improvement of customer service is that undertaken on behalf of OGCbuying.solutions.
Through its products and services, OGCbuying.solutions operates to assist public sector departments and agencies achieve cash and efficiency savings. It provides a professional procurement service to help organisations deliver improved value for money in their commercial activities, and offers support, advising on technical issues, energy saving and environmental improvements.
In leading public sector procurement transformation, OGCbuying.solutions is instrumental in implementing change across the public sector. At the same time, it is also part of the public sector change management process, and has recently restructured to better align internal processes with stakeholder operations and needs.
The organisation commits to continuous improvement in customer services, aided by ongoing customer research exploring each touchpoint in the customer service journey. Part of this research includes a quarterly Customer Value tracking study. Now in its third year, the study allows OGCbuying.solutions to monitor short and long term trends in customer service, as well as a series of “Customer Value Indicators” covering all aspects of the customer experience including quality, value, performance, delivery and service.
Following the restructure, OGCbuying.solutions wanted to obtain customer feedback and simultaneously validate trends emerging from the tracking study. ORC International was commissioned to collect feedback and ensure the customer tracking survey aligned with customers’ priority areas. The research aimed to:
Provide insight into the customer experience, exploring new and established touchpoints in the customer journey.
Review and refine research tools, particularly the Customer Value Indicators (CVIs), in line with service and organisational priorities.
The research comprised three phases:
Phase one: discussion groups with OGCbuying.solutions customers
The research began with discussion groups amongst customers of OGCbuying.solutions’ products and services to explore their current experiences and identify future requirements. All seven Category Directors, Board Members and representatives from the OGC and the NAO travelled to London to observe a group – affirmation of their commitment to understanding and improving the customer experience. Firsthand feedback from the customer service coal face gave the board insight into the critical service touchpoints.
Between the groups, the Board and Category Directors held meetings at ORC International to discuss the key trends emerging and make on-the-spot decisions to address issues that could be easily remedied.
The discussion groups also assessed customers’ views on which of the CVIs were most important to their measures of good service, mirroring a question from the customer tracking survey. The results from the groups were consistent with the survey and reflected the importance of product quality, cost, time and efficiency savings. In other words, customers identified with the importance of the operational or business motivations for using OGCbuying.solutions.
Phase two: correlation and logistic regression
The second phase of research involved statistical analysis (correlation and logistic regression) to identify the CVIs most closely associated with overall customer satisfaction. Understanding the relative importance of specific issues across different client touchpoints is critical for prioritising actions.
In the interest of data rigour, ORC International aggregated a series of survey datasets to provide a larger base for analysis.
The results of the statistical analyses indicated that core or generic customer service aspects were more closely related with overall satisfaction than any other CVI. These core CVIs included efficiency of services, ease of business, communication, support, customer relationships and tailored servicing.
The more functional aspects, such as savings and product quality, still fell within the top 10 CVIs, so were also of importance to satisfaction. However, the results suggested that delivery of core service issues was more important to customers’ overall satisfaction with the service.
(from statistical analysis)
Fast, flexible, efficient
Pricing is clear
Easy to do business
Value for money
Leverage buying power
Customer service and support
Phase three: presentation workshop
Results were delivered through a presentation workshop at OGCbuying.solutions premises in Norwich. The workshop reviewed the existing CVIs and identified those for amendment or removal. Removal was possible where Department priorities had moved away from the measure and/or the CVI had low impact on overall satisfaction.
The workshop also assessed ways to align the survey with the restructured business. A key consideration here was to enhance the current survey without losing important tracking information.
The process highlights OGCbuying.solutions’ commitment to monitoring the customer journey whilst acknowledging that this is ever changing. Fundamentally, the streamlined CVIs will facilitate a more focused and continued measurement of aspects shown to be important to customer service, while providing an opportunity to introduce new measures for prioritising issues arising from the restructure which will, in turn, allow greater efficiency in service delivery.
Following final approval, the enhanced survey will enable OGCbuying.solutions to measure service within each of its new operations.
OGCbuying.solutions’ vision statement – “Savings for the Nation” – resonates strongly throughout the business and its operations. ORC International’s research was aimed at helping the organisation achieve savings within its operations through:
Maximising the value of output
Directing action towards the areas of greatest priority
Ultimately, the research will help OGCbuying.solutions realise efficiencies in its process of realigning to customer needs.