Customer Service Plan

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BACKGROUND
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), founded in 1887, is one of the world's foremost medical research centers, and the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States. 26 Institutes and Centers comprise the NIH, which has the primary research goal of acquiring new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability from the rarest genetic disorder to the common cold. The NIH mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone. In 1993, President William J. Clinton issued Executive Order 12862 challenging Federal agencies to improve customer service. Further, Executive Order 12862 tasked agencies to survey their customers to identify what kinds of services they really want and to gather ideas from front-line employees on how to better deliver those services. The goal of this Customer Service Plan is to convey to you, the customer, a realistic, achievable approach for improving customer service at the National Institutes of Health. NIH is committed to improving the way it offers high quality services that are easily accessible to every American citizen. With this in mind, this Customer Service Plan is organized for your convenience. Customers may look at Attachment 1 to find some examples of activities going on at NIH that are organized by customer groups, consumers, health professionals, other governmental agencies, and grantee organizations. We want the plan to be as user-friendly as possible, and we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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EXECUTIVE ORDER
Executive Order 12862, "Setting Customer Service Standards" requires Federal agencies to: •Identify customers who are, or should be, served by the agency; •Survey customers to determine the kind and quality of services they want and their level of satisfaction with existing services; •Post service standards and measure results against them; •Benchmark customer service performance against the best in business; •Survey front-line employees on barriers to, and ideas for, matching the best in business; •Provide customers with choices in both the sources of service and the means of delivery; •Make information, services, and feedback systems easily accessible; •Provide means to address customer feedback; and,

Provide feedback to our customers on what improvements we have made.
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PRINCIPLES
This Customer Service Plan is based on ideas, suggestions, and feedback received from our customers as well as an extensive best practices search. It defines our customer service standards and processes for building and maintaining high quality services to meet those standards throughout the country. The following principles drove the process for developing the plan: Customers Know What They Want - Rather than sitting back and assuming that we know what customers wanted and needed, our agency is going out and asking. Through formal surveys, focus groups, and conversations, we are listening to what our customers think about the types and quality of services and products we offer. What we learn is helping to shape the ways in which we strive to redirect our services to ensure that we continuously improve our ability to meet your needs. Customer's Needs Are Paramount - Based on feedback from our customers, NIH must respond to comments and suggestions about improving the way we deliver products and services. Communication Is Key to Our Success - Developing effective tools to maintain lines of communication with our customers will help us do our jobs better. By developing more effective ways to direct information to our customers and by providing clearer paths to receive feedback, our agency will better address customer needs and concerns.

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APPROACH/SCOPE
NIH is diligently working to address the...
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