We are increasingly seeing successful aged care leaders taking an outside-in approach to their meal services. Operating from the perspective of solving problems and delivering value for their residents rather than merely focussing on meeting regulatory requirements and compliance.
An outside-in method to customer service requires a 2 step approach:
- Build an awareness and understanding of the problems and constraints of your customers. This goes beyond regular resident surveys. It is asking them deep and meaningful questions, immersing in their conversations, understanding what frustrates and annoys them. You will also want to discover how they interact with all aspects of the meal service to fulfil their needs.
- Take action with ingenious ways to address some of their problems. This will often require collaboration between internal departments and external suppliers and partners. It will also mean bridging the silos of internal functions who have touchpoints along the customer stream.
Now, decide on their most pressing needs. Even if you cant do it all. This calls for collaboration – coordination and cooperation internally and externally.
An outside-in targeted and precise strategy remains focused on the purpose of your mission. It resists focussing solely on dominant influencers, manipulating financial statements or on competitive advantages that are wasteful and unfocused and don’t improve the value proposition for customers.
If senior management is not fully committed, then “inside-out” thinking will inevitably take hold, customer value will wane and profits will erode.
Without an ongoing and continual external focus can have the effect of gradually disconnecting from customer changes and emerging competitive threats.
The objective of an outside-in approach to customer service is to bring worth to your residents that is beneficial for them while also creating additional value for your organisation and collaborators.
Laggards in customer service with “inside-out” thinking will continue to focus on their meal service and sell its features and benefits – “if I cook it, they will eat it”. This approach limits their ability to notice and adapt to market changes.
Your residents and their families probably don’t care who solves their problems. They just want them solved. How far do you immerse yourself into their life? How deeply have you examined the problems and questions they are facing? How far will you go to give them a solution, regardless of whether you have the skills and resources to do so?