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Harry Hertz

Customer Care

Exceeding Three Customers’ Expectations

The Baldrige Excellence Framework works on grandkids, too

Published: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - 14:44

Some of my friends commented that Harry the “Cheermudgeon” was too “mudgeonly” in my most recent Blogrige post. So I decided it was time to cheer. Here is a cheer to getting older. The topic came to me this past week, when I was given a senior-citizen discount at the supermarket without asking for it—despite the fact that I don’t look a day over 30! (I didn’t know the discount even existed until my wife told me.)

Another great joy of getting older is substituting grand-parenting for parenting. This summer we had the pleasure of giving our kids a break and hosting our granddaughters (in shifts with some overlap) for almost three weeks. At the end we were exhausted, but it was awesome. They are 3, 6, and 10 years old, and a real change after raising two sons.

Naturally, we were totally focused on exceeding our customers’ expectations. However, we also had the opportunity to utilize three additionally important categories of the Baldrige Excellence Framework: Strategy (category 2), Operations (category 6), and, of course, Results (category 7). A focus on work systems allowed us to consider all that was important, make sure we were prepared for our assignment, and delight our customers. (It also gives me another opportunity to show how work systems can be applied in all “businesses.”)

I defined our key work systems as: providing room and board, entertainment, daily close-out (aka bedtime), and emergency preparedness. We quickly decided that room and board would be an internal work process involving our own staff (my wife and me), entertainment would involve ourselves and external suppliers, daily close-out was also an internal work process, and emergency preparedness would involve us and a key external supplier.

External suppliers for entertainment included several local parks and pools/splash facilities, a large amusement park, a local carousel and puppet theater, a museum, and Wolf Trap National Park for a Disney concert. We contracted much of the entertainment to those best equipped to provide them efficiently and more cost effectively than if we decided to develop in-house resources.

With three children in the house, emergency preparedness comprised prevention—providing a safe “work” environment (our work process)—and also preparing for disasters. Disaster preparation involved having a pediatrician on call 24/7, even though our good Baldrige friend Don Lighter fortunately never had to be notified that he was on speed dial.

And now for the results. I have to admit to being in the early stages of reporting these. We have no trends or comparison data, but we have measured what was important. Customer engagement was high, and repeat business is anticipated by our loyal customers. Workforce satisfaction is high, although it dipped during a prolonged 3-year-old temper tantrum and on a few daily close-outs. Supplier performance was a consistent 9 or 10. We had one “accident” that resulted in the involvement of an unanticipated supplier—a plumber. We had no emergencies and never needed to call on our medical supplier.

Oh, and one possible unintended consequence of our customer engagement might have happened. We might have victimized a key stakeholder—parents who had to reintroduce more stringent customer engagement processes.

I hope you had a good summer and that your work systems performed well!

First published on Sept. 8, 2015, on Blogrige.


About The Author

Harry Hertz’s picture

Harry Hertz

Harry Hertz retired in June 2013 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he had served as director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program since 1995. For more than 15 years he was the primary architect of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, responsible for expansion of the Baldrige Program and Award to healthcare, education, and nonprofits, including government. Hertz serves on the advisory group for VHA’s Center for Applied Healthcare Studies, and on the adjunct faculty of American University. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and a Ph.D. from M.I.T.