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Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Keeping the customer at the centre of all decisions has seen Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology’s Administration and IT teams recognised at the recent Westpac Tauranga Business Awards.

Toi Ohomai was a finalist in two categories in the annual awards, which was held on Friday night.

Nominated for both the Continuous Improvement award sponsored by Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Productivity People and the Customer Experience Award sponsored by Holland Beckett Law, ​Toi Ohomai was named the winners of the Customer Experience award on the night.

Toi Ohomai Student Administration and Services Manager ​& Business Project Lead Dalice Rose-McSeveney says the team was buzzing with excitement when they heard they were finalists in the awards, and they were blown away when they were announced as the winners.

“Winning the Customer Experience category was a dream come true, it was recognition ​from the Business community ​to all Toi Ohomai staff involved that the way we approached this change, the customer-centered thinking we deployed and the outcomes we delivered were recognised as outstanding.” 

Toi Ohomai Executive Director Student and Staff Engagement and Experience Patrick Brus says that like any business, Toi Ohomai cannot ignore the fact that its customers have choices.

“The experience we deliver to them is what can make us stand out from the rest, humans are emotional beings, as such a lot of our decisions are made based on how we feel. Using this knowledge, we place humans first in how we design our enrolment processes, we litmus test each stage with a ​customer’s hat on and we truly listen to what our customers have to say. By doing this our customers feel valued, they feel welcomed and respected.”

The Toi Ohomai administration team​s ​across the rohe embed the organisations values into all ​that they do.

“Nominating specific staff to lead this critical project meant we could leverage off ​their combined skill sets​ culminating in this fantastic outcome​. They translated the customer feedback into new procedures, with the aim of removing barriers to education​ for our students, taking the fear out of the enrolment process and replacing it with self-belief and enthusiasm.”

Recognising the impact of great customer service has ​Toi Ohomai staff striving to provide a great service.

“Customer experience is one of the most important factors that makes an organisation successful. A customer who has a fantastic experience becomes your advocate, peer to peer referral is one of the most powerful branding tools you can use, especially in our line of business where careers are being forged.”

Dalice says that having a diverse range of customers involved with determining the improvements and design helps ensure the experience will be embraced by all customers. 

“It’s common for organisational processes to be internally driven rather than customer-driven. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking you know what it feels like to be one of your customers, only your actual customers can tell you how it feels.”

Organisations need to have the courage to invite their customers to the discussion table. 

“Ask them ‘Can you tell me what your experience with us was like?’ Then sit back and give them space, without interruption, to tell you their story. Those stories will be interwoven with great feedback as well as more confronting feedback.

“The confronting feedback is gold. It is these gold nuggets that help organisations understand what it’s truly like to be one of their customers. If what they discover makes them realise, the experience they currently provide has room for improvement, it’s not a poor reflection of what has been. Instead, it is an opportunity to build off those foundations and evolve the experience to ensure they continue to keep their customers delighted for many years to come.”

Patrick says customer experience is an evolutionary practice rather than a “one-off wonder”.

“To ensure we stay current with our customers and continue to improve their experiences with us we continue to get our student’s input, which helps inform us what processes are most in need of improvement, better understand their pain points and ensure what we design will meet their needs.” 

MIL OSI