THE KINGPIN: CUSTOMER
any organizations still practice the traditional ‘Product-out’ profit-oriented
strategy, which is self-defeating in the present competitive market. The pro-
found knowledge from TQM philosophy clearly points out that profit is the outcome
of efficacy of the customer-satisfaction process as a whole. Mechanical approach
towards ‘customer satisfaction’ as a routine chore cannot yield sustainable results.
It is critical to understand the difference between customer focus and customer
orientation. Customer orientation is the all-pervasive culture across the organization
to serve the customer, whereas the customer focus is generally a stand alone the
policy or means to somehow satisfy the customer. Compromises, omissions and
let downs are quite common in the customer focus policy. The right approach is to
institutionalize a customer-oriented strategy, which accords customer the status of
Kingpin in the integrated organizational planning and processes. The concept has
been depicted in Fig. 6.1, the concurrent task of continuous improvement of quality
and customer satisfaction embraces every activity in design/redesign, supplies,
production, process control, cost control, delivery, service, market research, etc.
Way back in August 1950, Dr. Deming at a conference in Mount Hakone Japan
exhorted the Top Management to include the ‘consumer’ as the most important
part of the production system.
Monitoring customer feedback is an essential element that helps understand
the changing needs of the customer as well as dynamic and altering market forces.
Any feedback indicating customer dissatisfaction, unstated or new requirements
of customers whether tangible or intangible, must be reviewed & acted upon
promptly at all integrated interfaces. Many organizations or professionals even
today talk of ‘customer loyalty’, an expectation that smack of obsolete thinking. It
is too much to ask for loyalty from customers who today, thanks to the Internet
and other technological innovations, have multiple alternative choices of products
and services. Now the real issue is whether the company is loyal to its customers or not.
In order to be loyal to its customers the company must display its perpetual concern
towards them, and make continuous effort to take care of all their changing needs
and aspirations. This is what customer orientation is all about!