Getting closer to the customer

Summary

Serco Docklands wanted to get closer to the customer in order to access a larger slice of the £800m spending programme.  

The problem

The problem was actually more of an opportunity. In the run up to the 2012 Olympics, Serco Docklands wanted to better understand their customer in order to increase their share of a potential £800m spending programme.

They believed that they had a good relationship with the client but in the spirit of working with the best and wanting to get better they wanted to see where improvements could be made; they wanted to better understand and satisfy their customers needs.

The client

Docklands Light Railway (DLR) needed to spend £800m on projects and infrastructure improvements ahead of the 2012 Olympics. Serco Docklands Ltd staffs and runs the DLR and is one of the contactors bidding for projects undertaken for this £800m budget.  At the time they shared the premises at a site in Poplar, East London.

The approach and the solution

Statius had previously been appointed by Gareth Hopkins, Director of the Project Division of Serco Docklands Ltd, to review existing practices, processes and procedures and to implement new ones.  As a result of this the Company gained certification to the prestigious and internationally recognised quality management system ISO 9000 and Gareth proclaimed himself an “ISO junkie”!

However, not content to rest on his laurels, Gareth wanted to use the ISO 9001 foundation to continually improve the organisation’s processes. Gareth asked Statius to review the relationship with DLR thus enabling Serco to get closer to and better satisfy their customer’s needs.

The objective of the project was to understand:

  • The customer/supplier expectations between Serco Docklands Projects and DLR Projects;
  • How Serco Docklands Projects could deliver better value; and
  • How well Serco Docklands Projects and DLR Projects manage change.

Statius then led Serco and DLR through the following steps

  • The identification of the key issues to be explored. 
  • The development of a focused interview questionnaire to explore the customer’s requirements in depth.
  • Carrying out in-depth focused interviews with staff of both companies to solicit their views.
  • Analysis of the results.
  • Presenting a plan of action for both parties.

Some 28 staff, approximately 80% of the key decision makers, across both companies were interviewed on a range of issues, for instance the understanding of the contractual relationship, company culture, change management, the project management processes, how value was created and perceived, and how Serco’s performance compared to that of its competitors.

The outcome

The final presentation was made to an audience of Serco and DLR staff culminating with a comment from Gareth “This has confirmed some things I knew, and that was useful; some things I didn’t and that too was useful.  However, most importantly, I guess we all felt a bit uncomfortable at times but now we have a real and robust improvement plan to go forward with.”.

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