LeDuc: Are You Meeting Your Customers' Needs?

One thing that successful organizations have in common is the core value of an "unrelenting customer focus." That sounds like a nice adage, but what does that mean in practical terms? Simply put: listen, learn and actively seek out what customers expect and how they place value on their experiences, goods or services. One simple area that many organizations miss the mark on is assuming that because they are the technical experts, they know what the consumer wants. This trap is a common one because technically they can be right on course, but customer expectation wise, they may miss the mark.

So how are customer expectations best determined? Well, it seems simple and it is. Soliciting customer input as to what their expectations are and how they make their valuable decisions and judgments. Examples are very simple. For many of us in the fire service business, one of our most frequent demands for service is with emergency medical service delivery…perhaps chest pain patients. From a technical perspective, most providers have clear expectations of themselves – oxygen administration, intravenous therapy, diagnostic 12 lead electrocardiograms, and patient history and physical exam. If acute cardiovascular etiology is expected, perhaps aspirin and nitroglycerin administration may be in order.

However, did we ever consider what the patient, or consumer of this service is experiencing and expecting? Ironically, simply asking that during conversation with a sampling of your chest pain patients may give you a very clear answer. Overwhelmingly, in discussing their expectations, they crystallized how they judge the success of their EMS or fire service experience – "make my pain go away." Hence, pain relief became the "tipping point" of determining if the service they received was a quality one. However, does your system know that, communicate that, train for that and establish processes to assure you focus on that?

This same experience can be replicated for as many consumer groups as you service. The challenge is to see how proactive your organization is in engaging consumers and aligning your business practices to assure you are meeting and hopefully exceeding their expectations.