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WIPO’s Journey to Increased Customer Satisfaction and Customer-Centricity Within Governance

Contributor: Zarina de Ruiter
Posted: 07/04/2016

In this interview, the Head of Customer Service Centre at WIPO details how they’re focusing on constantly improving the customer service they’re providing.

silverio, wipoSilverio Damiani is the Head of Customer Service Centre at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), where he has overseen the customer service area since 2009. At WIPO he also headed up the IT Service Desk (2004-2009) and worked on deployment and user support of patent electronic filing systems under the international patent system (2000-2004).

Prior to joining WIPO, Silverio worked as a project coordinator from 1995 to 2000 at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development where he provided technical assistance and user support for the deployment of customs automation systems in developing countries.

In this interview he discusses the challenges of providing an excellent customer service in governance and how they have tackled the challenges to increase customer satisfaction and customer-centricity across the entire organisation.

Can you tell me what your role as Head of Customer Service Centre at the World Intellectual Property Organisation entails, and what some of the key elements are in the organisation’s customer experience strategy?

I lead a team charged with ensuring that WIPO’s customers receive the highest level of service. We focus on:

1) Fostering service orientation - one of our organisation’s core values
2) Leading the development of customer service policies, standards and best practices
3) Providing assistance to improve customer services operations

A critical part of WIPO’s work is the provision of business services for obtaining intellectual property (IP) rights. Basically, the organisation administers a series of services that assist customers seeking to obtain a patent, trademark or industrial design in multiple countries through the filing of a single application. WIPO services are time and cost efficient, compared to alternative methods.

My team’s goal is to ensure a harmonious and effective customer experience. That is why WIPO has invested in implementing online tools which are effective, user-friendly and provide access to very comprehensive IP databases.

On the customer service side, we have been focusing on improving responsiveness and accessibility to our staff and services. For example, until 2012, customers could contact WIPO only during Geneva working hours (our headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland). Now they can contact us anytime of the day thanks to a simple round-the-clock service where our external offices (located in Brazil, China, Singapore, and Japan) take turns responding to calls to the headquarters’ main phone number.

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The main goal for a customer service centre is of course customer satisfaction. How do you achieve this at WIPO? And what measurement metrics do you utilise to ensure you’re achieving this?

We strive to achieve the trust of our clients and stakeholders. How is trust measured? That is a real challenge. At WIPO, our measurement metrics are based on the use of customer satisfaction rate collected through surveys. Historically, colleagues used non-standardised satisfaction surveys whose results provided only an indicator of the situation within their department.

Since 2012, we have adopted a more sophisticated approach which allows us to measure customer satisfaction at organisational level and compare the results obtained by different departments. This has the added benefit of creating healthy internal competition. We are also very keen on measuring the customer’s emotional satisfaction, which is of utmost importance.

What does the more sophisticated approach to measuring customer satisfaction entail?

We designed a new survey which can be customised and used to measure customer satisfaction by our various service departments. This allowed us to standardise the various satisfaction and other indicators across the organisation.

The new survey also introduced the evaluation criteria of “rational” vs “emotional” satisfaction. The data is then analysed and compared with other companies.

And how will you measure the emotional aspect to satisfaction?

The “rational” is measured in terms of customer’s perceived quality of our services, whereas the “emotional” is measured in terms of customer’s perceived value. In other words, we compare our “doing things right” vs. “doing the right thing”. The first informs interpretation of the latter. Our main focus is on achieving high scores in the ”emotional” rating.

One of your focuses is becoming more customer-centric, can you tell me about the customer centricity programme at WIPO and what successes you’ve seen from it so far?

In 2010, WIPO leadership articulated the organisation’s core values in the context of a strategic realignment process. Service-orientation became a clearly defined core value. That process led to the creation of a specific area mandated with overseeing implementation of this core value.

I am particularly proud of one of our key achievements: implementing an organisation-wide cultural change with respect to service-orientation. Not that we weren’t service-oriented previously, but the resulting change is a much stronger understanding of the importance and complexity of the customer’s experience for the organisation’s growth. This has been translated into more customer-centric staff practices and behaviour. We have observed an increasing customer satisfaction rate through our surveys.

All staff have a much better understanding now of the intimate correlation between customer satisfaction and business growth. As a result, for instance, key performance indicators based on customer satisfaction rates are now included in some business work plans.

You mentioned that the customer satisfaction rate has increased through your surveys, can you share by how much?

The satisfaction rate for one of our most important business services was measured on a rating scale of 5 values (from “dissatisfied” to “extremely satisfied”). We were pleased to measure a 6 per cent increase for customers who rated “very” and “extremely satisfied”.

At WIPO you are uniquely positioned, as you’re a UN organisation with a wide range of customers and stakeholders of different cultures. How do you ensure that the customer service you’re providing is targeted to the individual needs of each one of them?

The secret to good customer relations lies in knowing your clients. The nature of WIPO’s work allows us to interact regularly with our client-base both remotely and in situ. This helps us to better understand their needs and craft our service offering. Also, we encourage feedback through commentary and suggestions on diverse subjects and from different types of stakeholders using varying techniques. These include qualitative surveys, but also focus groups and image perception surveys.

Last but not least, as a UN organisation culture diversity is embedded in our DNA. We naturally tend to adapt to needs and expectations that are driven by cultural, geographical or other differences.

And what do you find to be the additional challenges of delivering an effective customer experience within governance? What key steps are you taking to overcome these challenges?

Our biggest challenge has been to ensure collaboration on cross-department customer experience-related matters and establish customer-service hubs within all departments.

To monitor this, we recently created a cross-departmental Customer Service Board, which brings together a group of senior managers to decide on matters relating to strategic, management and operational aspects of customer service organisation-wide. The Board, which meets quarterly, is chaired by the Director General and includes senior representatives from WIPO’s fee-generating services.

I am confident the Board will boost our efforts to oversee and guide the transition from an operational level to a strategic focus throughout the entire organisation.

Finally, what top tip can you share with fellow customer service leader to help them create a winning customer experience strategy?

My advice is “think big and start small”. You have to give time to colleagues to absorb the changes you want to implement, demonstrate the value added and allow customer experience management to grow within the organisation.

Contributor: Zarina de Ruiter
Posted: 07/04/2016