Organisations are increasingly realising the benefits of opening their innovation processes to their customers; having customers at centre stage from early idea generation to concept design to development boosts new products or services, as it increases the likelihood that they will fit the customers’ needs. This concept is easier to visualise in manufactured goods, however, service-based organisations like Encompass differ in terms of the intangibility of the product. The service industry includes a very broad range of different activities and businesses ranging from individual consultants to multinational finance organisations to public and third-sector organisations such as government, health, and education. Although services tend to be intangible, you can usually feel or see the results; as a consequence of this, performance and quality perceptions are more important in terms of customer expectations and the perceived performance. Customers will regard services as “good” if they exceed their expectations. According to Schweitzer and Tidd (2018) perceptions of service quality are largely affected by the following:
- The appearance of the facilities, equipment, and staff
- Prompt service and willingness to help
- The ability to perform the service competently
- The knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence
- Providing bespoke and individual attention per customer
Encompass operate on a Customer Focus Orientation, this method follows robust and sound processes of Quality to identify customer requirements. Our programmes are mapped and are continuously improved per national benchmarks, guidelines and statutory requirements. In determining the customer’s voice and encouraging early involvement in service development by conducting a Training Needs Analysis, we focus on the integration of need fulfilment throughout the programme ensuring that we provide a strong yet flexible type of delivery of customer-focused services. This crafted and bespoke approach achieves high levels of service delivery by focusing on customer requirements and project management. At the core of the experience that we deliver to our clients, we encourage meaningful, productive, and professional stakeholder relationships. In tandem with the Customer Focus Orientation, Encompass also adopt an Internal Knowledge Sharing Configuration, which provides innovation and efficiency by promoting teamwork and knowledge sharing of best practice and industry experience.
Integrating customers directly also generates creative input and novel solutions to potential issues. The “I made it myself” effect describes an affinity that customers have with a product they are personally involved in, and this stronger identification with the final offering can have an impact on subjective value (Franke et al., 2010).
Having a design and bespoke approach places more emphasis on trying to understand service user behaviour and needs, with a strong focus on empathy and co-creation; organisations start to develop their offering by trying to find a way to maximise the meaning and impact of their products or services on people’s lives. Examples of this in action would be mobile phones and their transition from a phone purely being a communication device to a highly interactive portable system, or console and computer gaming changing from what was once a largely solitary activity to an interactive family and friends-based activity.
In relation to learning and development programmes, we have chosen to move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach; demand for made-to-order products and services is increasing and many businesses now recognise clients, regardless of the sector, as individuals in their own right with specific yet varying needs. High-quality customer experience is essential to generating regular, repeat business; therefore a customer-focused culture is integral to Encompass’ core mission and values. Through listening to the voice of our customer, we have provided successful programmes locally, regionally, nationally, and in some instances, globally.