U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210
October 8, 1998
|DIRECTIVE||:||TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION NOTICE NO. 12-98|
|TO||:||ALL STATE JTPA LIAISONS
ALL STATE WORKER ADJUSTMENT LIAISONS
ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES
ALL ONE-STOP CAREER CENTER SYSTEM LEADS
Office of Regional Management
|SUBJECT||:||Availability of Updated Simply Better! Tools for Measuring Customer Satisfaction|
Purpose. To announce the publication and distribution of updated materials from the Simply Better! Continuous Improvement Project.
References. Training and Employment Information Notice (TEIN) No. 11-95, Simply Better! Continuous Improvement Project, and TEIN No. 16-95, Availability of Simply Better! Tools for Measuring Customer Satisfaction with Employment and Training Programs.
Background. The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 establishes customer satisfaction as a major component of a comprehensive performance accountability system designed "...to assess the effectiveness of States and local areas in achieving [the] continuous improvement of workforce investment activities...." Section 136 of the Act describes both State and local performance measures as consisting of core indicators--entry into and retention in unsubsidized employment, earnings, and attainment of a recognized skill credential--and a customer satisfaction indicator. The Act describes this customer satisfaction indicator as follows: "The customer satisfaction indicator of performance shall consist of customer satisfaction of employers and participants with services received from the workforce investment activities authorized under this subtitle. Customer satisfaction may be measured through surveys conducted after the conclusion of participation in the workforce investment activities."
States and local workforce investment boards must develop plans which establish quantifiable, measurable levels of performance for each indicator--including customer satisfaction--and must periodically report on their progress toward achieving these levels.
The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) anticipates that these provisions of the WIA will lead to heightened interest in the techniques of measuring customer satisfaction and the principles of using customer feedback to create a continuously improving organization. The publications described in this TEIN are designed to help carry out these important tasks.
Simply Better!. Simply Better! is a national technical assistance project designed to help employment and training professionals and organizations incorporate principles of continuous quality improvement into their daily operations. Its overall goals are 1) to design products and provide services that assist workforce development organizations to implement continuous improvement efforts, and 2) to develop a learning network of individuals and organizations committed to continuous service improvement, to customer satisfaction and to exceptional quality. Simply Better! has created its own Internet home page to connect the members of this peer-to-peer assistance network.
Since 1995, Simply Better! has developed and published four technical assistance guides (TAGs) for workforce development program practitioners: A guide to organizational self-assessment using the Baldrige Award questions; a TAG on customer identification and satisfaction measurement; a guide to conducting focus groups to uncover the needs and expectations of customers; and a manual on implementing continuous improvement techniques in the day-to-day operations of employment and training agencies. Over 10,000 copies of these publications have been distributed nationwide.
Publication of each TAG was followed by an intensive training regime. Train-the-trainer sessions have been held in each ETA Region for local, State and Regional Office training delivery staff. These trainers have, in turn, held "turn-around" training sessions for local agencies in most States. To date, well over 1200 people have attended SB! training.
Publication Updates and Revisions. Simply Better! has recently revised, expanded and reprinted two of its publications that deal with collecting and analyzing customer feedback.
The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is a practical overview of techniques for gathering customer input, measuring satisfaction and incorporating customer feedback into service design, delivery and improvement. This TAG examines informal research techniques, focus groups, customer surveys and data analysis and interpretation -- all in the everyday context of employment and training program administration. The guidebook includes examples of various types of customer survey instruments used by employment and training agencies throughout the country.
The Voice of the Customer Workbook is a separate three-ring binder which contains step-by-step instructions, flow charts, diagrams and blank forms to help local agency staff design and implement their own customer satisfaction procedures.
The Voice of the Customer CD-ROM is a multimedia, computer-based training module prepared for Simply Better! by the Missouri Training Institute. This training tool follows the format of the two VOC texts mentioned above and will allow individual staff to explore the principles and techniques of customer satisfaction measurement at their own pace.
Customers in Focus. Focus groups are one of the most widely used techniques of gathering qualitative data about customer expectation and satisfaction. Simply Better!'s Customers in Focus contains information and advice for those interested in conducting focus group sessions. The book discusses the relative advantages and disadvantages of focus groups and when and when not to use them. It gives advice on how to design a focus group session, recruit participants and how to find and evaluate the competencies of an independent focus group moderator. It contains a section on how to analyze and present the data gained from focus groups and an appendix containing samples of discussion guides, debriefing forms, comment sheets and a bibliography of additional information.
Distribution. Print copies of The Voice of the Customer TAG, The Voice of the Customer Workbook, Customers in Focus and all other Simply Better! products are available from the Regional Office contacts. In addition, the text of these TAGs may be downloaded from the Simply Better! web site (see the Simply Better! website, at www.simplybetter.org, for Regional Office Simply Better! contacts and materials).
The Missouri Training Institute has distributed multiple copies of the Voice of the Customer CD-ROM to each State JTPA liaison. Additional copies are available from ETA Regional Offices.
Inquiries. Questions should be directed to the appropriate Regional Office Simply Better! contact.
Simply Better! Regional Contacts
Web Page. http://www.simplybetter.org
Mary Jane Williamson