Enhancing performance through the introduction of customer orientation into the building components industry
Purpose ? This paper aims to describe an investigation into how company performance can be improved by integrating internal and external customers and technology. The approach was developed, implemented and evaluated in the operations of the building components industry. The research was carried out in the precast concrete division of a Singapore company. Design/methodology/approach ? For the purpose of undertaking the investigation an exploratory case study approach was used. This was divided into conceptual and action research stages. The action research was also used to implement the changes in the company. Questionnaire surveys were carried out among company employees and external customers to assess the effect of these changes. Results of the investigation were derived using content and statistical analysis. Triangulation between three sources was used for validating the data. Findings ? The exploratory case study strategy resulted in rich research data, which provided evidence of the changes taking place and integration happening, leading to improved performance. The action research approach proved a powerful tool where the uncertainty of outcomes makes it near impossible to make accurate forecasts. Another output of the research was the development of an ?integrated customer orientation? (ICO) model. Research limitations/implications ? The research in this paper used a single site action research investigation so should be interpreted within the specific company and industry context. There are implications for theory and practice in a number of areas of production and marketing as well as contributions to understanding about productivity improvement and organisational development. The investigation also fulfils the dual objectives of action research by contributing to both knowledge and practice. Originality/value ? The paper describes a unique approach towards improving productivity, quality and service through the use of action research to implement changes, as well as providing the research evidence to evaluate both the process of implementation and results achieved.