A Best Practices Report
A Report of the
|Defense Commissary Agency
Federal Express Corporation
GTE Directories Corporation
Portland VA Medical Center
|The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company|
Social Security Administration
Ultimate Support Systems, Inc.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
NATIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW SPONSORS
Dan Curtis, National Performance Review
Wilett Bunton, National Performance Review
Linda Nivens, National Performance Review
M Scott Beck, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
Norma Jo Greenlee, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Robert H. Baker, Defense Commissary Agency
Kathleen Bailey, Environmental Protection Agency
Paul Dzierzynski, U. S. Patent and Trademark Office
Aldolphus Gaines, Office of the Inspector General,
Department of the Treasury
Brad Gee, Federal Aviation Agency
Karl Glasbrenner, Defense Intelligence Agency
Terrence Graham, Department of Veterans Affairs
Margaret West Guenther, U. S. Department of Education
Art Koines, Environmental Protection Agency
Sheldon Lehner, Immigration and Naturalization |
Service, Department of Justice
Paige Lowther, Department of Veterans Affairs
Maynard Malabey, Social Security Administration
M. Neil Masson, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Stephen C. Moore, U. S. Department of Education
Patricia Novak, National Cemetery System,
Department of Veterans Affairs
Steve Randol, Defense Commissary Agency
Julie Spyres, Environmental Protection Agency
The study partners were selected because of their reputation for high quality customer service and their representation of a cross-section of industries. This report highlights commendable practices that have led to such customer satisfaction. The inclusion of the organizations listed in this report does not, however, constitute a general endorsement of any organization by either the National Performance Review or Vice President Al Gore.
The following organizations served as partners in our study of best practices in world-class courtesy. Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) operates a worldwide system of grocery stores committed to providing quality products at the lowest possible price to current and former members of the armed services and their families. The Agency's vision is "quality first, people always."
With more than 110,000 employees worldwide, Federal Express Corporation delivers more than 2 million packages to over 200 countries each business day. In 1990, Federal Express was honored with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Located in Dallas-Fort Worth, GTE Directories Corporation has published yellow pages since the 1940s. Today, GTE publishes more than 2,300 directories in 47 states and 15 countries, and employs more than 5,000 people. In 1994, GTE Directories was also honored with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Founded in 1901 in Seattle, Nordstrom is a family-owned company offering fashion apparel, shoes, and accessories. With 81 stores in 16 states, Nordstrom continues to be guided by its founder's commitment to "offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality, and value."
Guided by the philosophy "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen," The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company operates 32 resorts worldwide and employs more than 14,000. In 1992, the Ritz-Carlton was honored with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
With 1,300 field offices and 37 telephone service centers, the Social Security Administration (SSA) delivers programs that provide continuing income to retirees, insurance payments to individuals with disabilities, and health benefits to older Americans. An independent agency since 1994, SSA is committed to "putting customers first."
Ultimate Support Systems of Fort Collins, Colorado, designs, builds, and sells durable, lightweight stands and other support equipment for musicians and biking enthusiasts worldwide.
USAA provides insurance and diversified financial services for current and former members of the armed forces. Headquartered in San Antonio, USAA was founded by a group of military officers. Today, USAA employees number 16,500 worldwide.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) mission is to ensure the well-being of Americans, especially with regard to commercial agriculture and sensible management of natural resources; families needing nutritional services; consumers dependent on a safe, affordable food
supply; and residents of depressed rural areas. USDA administers more than 200 programs and an annual budget of over $54 billion.
The Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, is a 482-bed research and teaching hospital committed to providing "services that match the best in business." More than 30,000 veterans received care at the facility in 1996 through outpatient visits and approximately 10,000 inpatient stays.
Courtesy among individuals and organizations has long been recognized in all major societies of the world as a sign of respect and civility. Even among parties with divergent points of view, think, for example, of the chambers of the United Nationscourteous behavior among individuals and countries sets a tone of mutual respect with which further productive dialog and successful outcomes may be achieved. In all its forms and styles, courtesy behavior, has been hailed by kings, presidents, and religious leaders as behavior that provides a foundation of good manners and goodwill and from which all other good things may follow.
Be ruthless with time and gracious with people.
WE MUST CHANGE
Many feel that changing organizational behaviors in the federal sector is not only possible, but essential. In today's business environment, government agencies, like organizations in the private sector, are subject to the forces of downsizing, customer satisfaction, customer retention, revenue loss, and streamlining of services. How customers are treated is often the difference between organizations that succeed and those that fail. Courtesy, and the behaviors involved in it are integral to achieving world-class recognition and customer satisfaction.
The National Performance Review and Executive Order 12862, along with the President's Management Council, have directed government agencies to look for smarter and better ways of doing business. The purpose of this report is to identify courtesy best practices in "best-in-class" organizations. The study team's working hypothesis was that courtesy, as perceived by the customer, is an integral component of customer satisfaction.
Based on this, the team developed a working definition of both courtesy and world-class courtesy.
IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH COURTESY
The study team determined that courtesy, as an organizational objective, relates to the establishment, preservation, or improvement of relationships. We found that those behaviors associated with courtesy seemed to have more significance for organizational improvement when viewed within the larger context of customer service. Courtesy is generally a component within the customer service strategy of an organization, as well as a series of identifiable, measurable behaviors.
The team learned that an organization's values and actual behavior toward the customer and among its own employees are often different. To address this, the partners in this study tended to focus on both employee-to-employee courtesy as well as employee-to-customer courtesy.
We found throughout our research that employees who are highly valued and well-trained by their organizations provide a higher level of service to their customers. Whether it is a veteran applying for care in a Veterans Health Administration facility, a vacationer checking into a four-star hotel, a beneficiary contacting the Social Security Administration, or a family just entering a national forest, customers should expect their needs to be addressed both competently and courteously.
World-Class Courtesy: Using exceptional manners, as interpreted from the customer's perspective, to exceed the expectations of the customer.
Government agencies must do what many of America's best businesses have done: renew their focus on customers.
This report offers insight into how world-class companies use courtesy to improve customer satisfaction and their own bottom line. Each of the organizations studied exhibited the following characteristics:
COURTESY AND BEHAVIOR
Courtesy is expressed as a wide range of respectful behaviors and positive attitudes. Personal characteristics and behaviors that were repeatedly expressed by our partners as essential elements of courteous behavior are:
DELIVER World-Class COURTESY
What must the government do to deliver world-class courtesy? The following sections provide information, best practices, and techniques to help you develop an organization that delivers world-class courtesy.
How customers are treated is often the difference between organizations that succeed and those that fail.
|PRESIDENT CLINTON'S EXECUTIVE ORDER 12862|
"Setting Customer Service Standards"