In this blog series, we are highlighting some of the learning (successful strategies and programs) shared by Baldrige Award recipients to highlight the categories of the Baldrige Criteria and how your organization might consider using them as inspiration.
Part of the purpose of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987 (Public Law 100-107) is to disseminate information about the successful strategies and programs of Baldrige Award-winning organizations that “practice effective quality management and as a result make significant improvements in the quality of their goods and services.” Such sharing by Baldrige Award recipients is done at the Quest for Excellence® Conference, as well as at the Baldrige Fall Conference. Baldrige Award recipients also often host sharing days after their wins to share best practices.
Category 3 of the Baldrige Criteria covers your organization’s customers.
This category asks how you engage customers for long‐term marketplace success, including how you listen to customers, serve and exceed customers’ expectations, and build customer relationships.
Category 3 stresses customer engagement as an important outcome of an overall learning and performance excellence strategy. Your customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction results provide vital information for understanding your customers and the marketplace. In many cases, the voice of the customer provides meaningful information not only on your customers’ views but also on their marketplace behaviors and on how these views and behaviors may contribute to your organization’s current and future success in the marketplace.
Following are some practices shared by Baldrige Award recipients (Alamo Colleges District; Integrated Project Management Company, Inc.; and the City of Germantown, TN) in the realms of customer listening, relationship management, customer life cycles, and integrated pathways to engagement and graduation. What could your organization learn/adapt?
2018 Baldrige Award Recipient, Education
Alamo Colleges District’s vision of being “the best in the nation in Student Success and Performance Excellence” aligns with its Students First culture. The district’s results demonstrate this:
To attain such results, Alamo focuses on building relationships with and retaining students using a key initiative called MyMAP (My Monitoring Academic Progress). This intentional, integrated academic and student support system is tailored to address individual needs.
The MYMAP system consists of
MYMAP also includes integrated approaches. For example, AlamoADVISE is a proactive advising method using a case management approach, with each student assigned to the same advisor from entry through completion. It was developed and implemented as a cycle of improvement.
In addition, First Time in College helps emphasize student retention, with students e-mailed and called every week to answer questions and offer advice on campus resources. Students nearing completion are sent post cards and reminded to visit their advisors. Students who do not register early are contacted to register for courses. Students who do not return are contacted to re-enroll and/or asked why they are taking the semester off or where they transferred.
2018 Baldrige Award Recipient, Small Business
Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM) uses multiple methods to listen to and interact with customers. Such listening drives decision making in process improvements and new services and is the foundation of IPM’s customer relationship management approach. Its customer-related results reflect this robust approach:
Listening methods are used to identify unmet customer opportunities and industry trends, which are logged on The Hub (IPM’s SharePoint site); all entries are analyzed by senior leadership. Based on this listening, strategic initiatives are developed to adapt product offerings to better exceed customer expectations.
Customers can easily seek information and support through on-site project management consultants. Each engagement is customized to specific customer needs. Within two weeks of completing an engagement, the PPE is administered to customers to solicit feedback. The PPE includes numerical rating, pick-list, and qualitative response questions.
Relationships are established through meetings, social media, and networking activities. IPM employees use networks to identify prospective customers, which is behavior reinforced by the Employee Business Development Incentive Policy, with escalating rewards determined by the depth of the relationship built. IPM also emphasizes finding other opportunities to solicit feedback, such as participating in customer-sponsored charity events, which aligns with the core principle of giving back. Relationships with former customers are maintained through regularly scheduled email or phone contact as well as get-togethers. Tracking data from customer interactions with the website provides insight into target audience’s interests, as does the monitoring of responses with marketing automation.
2019 Baldrige Award Recipient, Nonprofit
The City listens to potential customers and plans accordingly by analyzing and forecasting market data, including demographic, population, economic, and employment estimates. Acting on this information, the City is in a stronger position to understand the market demand for commercial and residential development and to make appropriate land use decisions, thereby expanding its customer base.
Two-way communication with potential customers is achieved through social media and the City’s customer service center. New residents are asked to complete a brief survey when signing up for water service. Survey information is used to update new resident packets and the Life and Stories brochure. Customers who leave the City are surveyed upon disconnecting water service to learn why they are moving and what the City can do to improve services. In addition, a biennial community survey asks respondents to rate the importance and level of satisfaction of specific services. A priority chart segments data by age, household income and size, length of residency, ethnicity, gender, and education level. This information is used to ensure that resources are used to fund areas of high importance during the annual budget process.
Results show the efforts of the City’s customer approaches:
Residents engage with the City at different levels depending on their interests and availability levels:
The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.