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AtlantiCare and the “Voice of the Customer” Essay

Introduction

Located in southeastern New Jersey, AtlantiCare is a nonprofit organization that provides acute and chronic health care services in the following areas: cancer, trauma, cardiac care, stroke, behavioral health, urgent care, hospice, home care, family medicine, occupational medicine, child care, early learning, and mission care for the homeless. Because of the nature of the services it provides quality is essential at AtlantiCare, and the organization delivers it. In fact, AtlantiCare applies the principles of total quality so comprehensively and consistently that the organization has received the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. At the core of AtlantiCare’s quality program is a process the organization calls the “Voice of the Customer.” This is a five-phase process used to make the organization’s patients partners in its continual-improvement efforts.

Voice of the Customer identifies patient requirements and then makes sure that AtlantiCare’s services satisfy these requirements. The company’s customer focus does not stop with external customers. It also includes internal customers-employees (Goetsh & Davis, 2011). Total quality is not a concept anymore in day to day operations at AtlantiCare. It is part of the management team work ethic and philosophy, and the rest of the nonprofit company staff. AtlantiCare applies the principles of total quality in such a way that not only takes care of its customers, but also its internal customers. By doing so, the company has achieved organizational excellence. The case that follows is about the steps taken by the administration at AtlantiCare and also the lessons learned by the executives and the staff to become a world-class health care provider.

Questions

AtlantiCare has learned how to apply the principles of effective communication in a Total Quality setting. If total quality is the engine, communication is the oil that keeps it running. Much of what total quality is all about depends on effective communication. Without it, total quality breaks down. Some of the key elements of the total quality concept are customer focus (internal and external), total employee involvement and empowerment, leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem prevention, problem solving, and conflict resolution (Goetsh & Davis, 2011). The core of the AtlantiCare’s Total Quality system is a process called the “Voice of the Customer.” This is a five-phase process used to make the organization’s patients partners in its continual-improvement efforts. Voice of the Customer identifies patient requirements and then makes sure that AtlantiCare’s services satisfy these requirements. The part that AtlantiCare applies perfectly well is the focus in its internal and external customers.

This approach has giving the nonprofit company the information necessary to fix its mistakes and to reengineer its process, so AtlantiCare keeps its customers satisfied. Basically, what AtlantiCare does is to listen to all the stakeholders, following the principles of effective communication: message received, message understood. To listen responsively, managers and employees must learn to simultaneously use their ears, eyes, brains, and hearts. Responsive listening can pay substantial dividends for managers in a total quality setting (Goetsh & Davis, 2011). PepsiCo and IKEA are among the top companies were people wants to work at. It is not only because these companies have a recognized name or they are multinational companies. It is basically because these two companies also apply Total Quality programs where listening the suggestions and concerns of its employees and customers is a very big component.

According to IKEA Welcome Inside 2012 report they in many markets we are the employer of choice, and latest results from our co-worker satisfaction survey, VOICE, show a very high level of satisfaction among our co-workers. The VOICE result also identifies areas where we can improve. IKEA is listening actively. They paid attention to their employees. They are sensitive to the information they receive, and also they act in consequence. They are being creative by developing programs to help their employees to grow and develop. In 2012, PepsiCo was listed among the Top 25 ‘World’s Best Multinational Workplaces’ by the Great Place to Work Institute (PepsiCo, 2012). PepsiCo is always looking for talent and sustainability for them it means to invest in their associates to help them succeed; providing a safe and inclusive workplace globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where they operate.

In all of their markets, they are developing the talent of associates, preparing them to lead PepsiCo into the future. Through PepsiCo University and online courses offered by their global functions, more than 8,000 of their associates completed more than 11,500 courses in 2012. The professional development they offer to their associates enables them to develop the skills, capabilities and mindsets needed to drive sustainable financial performance and value creation. PepsiCo is combating the inhibitors of listening by providing to its employees with opportunities of professional development.

Conclusion

In order to have a Total Quality program that works effectively it is important to put at the core of the program the communication piece. Especially the information that is brought and communicated by the customers is the piece that has to have a mechanism that assures that it is inputted in to the Total Quality program. In the case of AtlantiCare, the nonprofit company has a system in place that voices the suggestions, complains, and demands of both customers: external and internal. The core of the AtlantiCare’s Total Quality system is a process called the “Voice of the Customer.” This is a five-phase process used to make the organization’s patients partners in its continual-improvement efforts. Voice of the Customer identifies patient requirements and then makes sure that AtlantiCare’s services satisfy these requirements. The part that AtlantiCare applies perfectly well is the focus in its internal and external customers.

In the case of IKEA, the company has its own program called the “VOICE.” The VOICE result also identifies areas where we can improve. IKEA is listening actively. They paid attention to their employees. They are sensitive to the information they receive, and also they act in consequence. The area where this program could improve is in the external customer. According to this program they are only surveying the employees, but they are not taking in consideration the important information that the external customers have and can be used in the company’s advantage. On the other hand, in 2012, PepsiCo was listed among the Top 25 ‘World’s Best Multinational Workplaces’ by the Great Place to Work Institute (PepsiCo, 2012), which means PepsiCo takes care of its internal customers.

In all of their markets, they are developing the talent of associates, preparing them to lead PepsiCo into the future. Through PepsiCo University and online courses offered by their global functions, more than 8,000 of their associates completed more than 11,500 courses in 2012. PepsiCo provides for its employees professional developing opportunities and career growth, but they do not have a program in place that assures that its employees are providing information that could help the company. Less say they are not putting communication at the core of its Total Quality program. Finally, both companies could learn something from AtlantiCare by implementing Total Quality programs that included their external customers. Especially in the case of IKEA that sells directly to the final consumer.

References
David L. Goetsch, Stanley B. Davis. (2011) Quality Management for Organizational Excellence: Introduction to Total Quality, (7th Ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education IKEA Group (2012). Welcome inside 2012.

Retrieved from
http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/pdf/yearly_summary/ys_welcome_inside_2012.pdf PepsiCo (2012). Annual Report.
Retrieved from
http://www.pepsico.com/download/PEP_Annual_Report_2012.pdf


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