NIATx Principle #1: Understand and involve the customer

Submitted by: 02/17/2017 by Maureen Fitzgerald

Out of 80 variables examined to identify why some improvement efforts succeed while others fail, NIATx researchers found only five were statistically significant in differentiating between successful and failed projects. It was out of these five factors that the NIATx principles were born.

Understanding and involving the customer had more influence on a project’s success that all the other factors put together, and that’s why we made this the Number One principle of NIATx.

It’s importance really can’t be overstated. A company that takes the time and effort to get inside the head of its customer, to figure out his needs and to get regular feedback along the way, is far more likely to succeed in its improvement efforts. It’s easy for a company to assume that it knows what its customers want, but to do so is a mistake. Throw any assumptions out the window and begin the project with the mindset that you don’t know what the customer wants, or how she feels. When you start with a blank slate, you’ll be forced to open up your eyes to the customer’s point of view and to solicit and value customer input. The project will be much better for it.

This point arises again and again in NIATx. One of the most valuable tools for seeing your organization through the customer’s eyes is the “walk-through,” which takes place at the beginning of a change project.  In this exercise, a treatment agency staff member takes on the role of a client seeking help. This staff member goes through all the steps a typical client would go through, such as making the first phone call to inquire about services and completing the required intake paperwork. By conducting a walk-through, you can see your organization and its services the way a typical client does. You’ll also be in a better position to identify problems and flaws that negatively affect customer perceptions. 

From The NIATx Model: Process Improvement in Behavioral Health 

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