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Ten Questions To Ask About Your Customer-Focus Improvement Process

  1. What outcomes (results, not activities) are to be achieved by this improvement initiative? How will their attainment be measured?
  2. Have you identified which of the organization's products and services are most critical in carrying out its mission? If yes, what are the 10 most vital? If not, what method will you use for identifying and prioritizing them to create a strategic foundation for this initiative?
  3. What specific numerical objectives and due dates have been established for improving priority outcomes, products and services? Are they being met?
  4. Improvement initiatives are often aimed at general problem-solving and process management. As Drucker, Lawton, Deming and others have written, it is possible to solve internal problems and improve efficiency while failing to (1) meet customer needs or (2) function as an effective enterprise. Is the initiative intended to measurably increase both customer and employee satisfaction? By how much?
  5. What is currently given higher organizational priority than customer satisfaction?
  6. What method is used to uncover customers' priority expectations?
  7. Do employees know who the end-users of products and services are which both they and the enterprise create? (End-users are not necessarily the same as recipients, acquirers, investors or beneficiaries.) What guidance has been provided to employees for balancing competing customer interests?
  8. What formal processes ensure customers get the outcomes, products and services they want most?
  9. What are the personal and/or shared rewards for initiative success? What are the consequences for failure?
  10. A reasonable return on investment (ROI) from a well-conceived and carefully executed improvement initiative should be at least 10-to-1 within the first 24 months. What ROI is expected from your initiative (assuming downsizing is not the means to achieve this end)?
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