During the Baldrige Program’s recent Quest for Excellence® Conference, Momentum Group, a 2016 Baldrige Award recipient, described key practices that have helped it become a leading innovator in its industry. Momentum Group Design Director Shantel McGowan led a panel highlighting the customer-focused processes and practices (category 3 of the Baldrige Excellence Framework) of the California-based textile distributor.
McGowan first explained that Momentum Group has three customer groups—business, health care, and hospitality organizations—for which it designs and sells fabrics to be used in gathering spaces such as offices, lobbies, and waiting rooms. The company identifies its customer requirements (or needs) for new products in part by looking at trends and customer/market-specific considerations.
Design considerations include workforce demographic factors such as the increasing number of young workers, who have relatively short tenures of about two years, and the higher number of 65-year-olds in the U.S. workforce today than in past decades, said McGowan. Other design considerations include business practices that impact work environments, such as the creation of more collaborative work environments by innovative technology businesses. In contrast, product design considerations for Momentum Group’s health care customers include infection control and the need to create a soothing environment for patients and families.
In considering the needs of ill patients, Momentum Group designed a product called “naked nylon” that avoids chemicals traditionally used on the back of fabric to adhere to office furniture, said McGowan. Another innovative fabric the company introduced for health care environments is Silica, which is naturally anti-microbial and highly resistant to staining (thus easily cleanable). Silica was launched as an alternative to vinyl, according to McGowan. Momentum’s innovative fabrics also include recycled nylon, which “has changed the entire industry,” said McGowan. As an environment-friendly fabric, recycled nylon is aligned with the company’s focus on creating sustainable products. McGowan noted several industry awards Momentum Group has received for such innovations.
Following are some key practices that have enabled Momentum Group to create innovative products for its customers, as presented by McGowan.
Momentum Group also does “quite a bit of testing” on products to ensure that they do what we say they can do, said McGowan. For example, she cited the infection-control fabrics the company designed for its health care market.
Further, Momentum Group has created a systematic process for investigating product failures (in regard to claims) in order to improve products if need be, McGowan said. Such cases usually result from environmental abuse, such as use of an improper cleaner, she added.
As a proactive approach to obtaining input from customers, the Design Team also visits at least 60 customers per year to get face-to-face feedback on company products, according to McGowan. Those interactions go beyond customer visits by sales employees from the company.
How does your organization listen to your customers? Please share your best practices or other thoughts on the topic.