Creating Customer Satisfaction: A Renewed Challenge for Government Research Laboratories 920973
In today's dynamic environment, customer satisfaction is an increasingly important component of the military research program. As familiar as research scientists and technologists (S&T's) are to technical challenges, even the most capable are not immune to the staggering pace of change. S&T's can address these challenges by re-focusing on customer satisfaction, beginning with critical elements such as requirement definition, feasibility, and cost. Methods currently available to help S&T's learn and understand the needs of users are no longer adequate. Expanded metrics, which include user assessment and recognition of research constituencies, are needed to improve estimates of customer satisfaction and better direct laboratory efforts. These expanded metrics can increase the visibility of research contributions.
Management initiatives indicate that a shift in the control of research funds, from the laboratory to the user, is underway. Technology transition and oversight processes, integrated weapon system planning, centralized project control, and expanded use of revolving funds tend to decrease the autonomy of individual research directors. However laboratories can create a positive response to turbulent change through creation of strategic alliances with customers and application of standard service marketing techniques. Through these mechanisms, researchers can avoid the pitfalls of shifting control, improve customer relationships, and continue to satisfy user needs.