Philip Kastle is the senior director of AIB International's client services and business processes.

Client services and business services are on the upswing

A look back at the past year within AIB International’s client services and business processes had Philip Kastle, senior director of the group, all smiles.

“I was so happy that we did the things that we said we were going to do,” he said. “We talked about a new phone system — it was installed last summer. We talked about implementing a CRM (customer relationship management) system — that’s there. We talked about business metrics — we’ve made a lot of progress on that front.”

One of the areas AIB International has made the most progress is in customer satisfaction surveys. Mr. Kastle said all of the customer surveys for audits and inspections were significantly redesigned.

“Before it was very focused on the actual event of the inspection and how our inspectors presented themselves and behaved,” he explained. “So we expanded the scope of the surveys to more of an end-to-end process. We backed up and started asking, ‘How was your experience with the scheduling of your inspection? How was your experience with the actual inspection itself? How was your experience in getting the final report? What was your experience with any technical questions?’”

He said AIB International also added a net promoter score, which is similar to surveys that ask “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” This style of survey was first added as part of the organization’s GMP survey, which is its core product, and then expanded from North America to other international regions. Spanish and Portuguese GMP surveys were then launched. Earlier this year AIB International began the process of taking the same approach to its GFSI audits, and by the first of May expects to offer a GFSI audit survey in Chinese.

The organization also put an emphasis on responding to the surveys in a timely fashion. If a client has assigned a rating of “poor” or consistently “fair” or less, immediate action is taken, Mr. Kastle said.

“Anything that is in those bottom two boxes we assess what the feedback was and get it to the correct people to respond to it and remedy those things,” he said. “And that’s done at a very fast pace. It’s within the same week. Within one or two days we’ve actioned it, which is quite unusual. Likewise, we do a lot of recognition internally of people who compliment us.”

Mr. Kastle said the feedback AIB International is receiving is priceless, particularly as the group moves forward on its strategic plan.

“This is a really good way to get the feedback on how we’re doing with them and also to trend over time,” he said. “We’re actually making targets off of our performance.”

So far, so good. Mr. Kastle said 10 months of data show AIB International is generally scoring above 90% in all areas and mostly over 95%. Scheduling has been identified as the biggest area of concern, and steps to improve that part of the process are being taken, he said.

Just as important as getting a good response is getting any response at all, and Mr. Kastle said the response rate to the surveys has been solid at right around 20%, regardless of geography. Sending out a reminder has generated an additional 10% bump, he said.

“Thirty per cent is a really strong response rate,” he said.

AIB International also has managed to improve its ability to forecast, which is critical for an actively growing business.

“We’ve developed the ability to do weekly updates where before we’d walk into our month-end meetings and find out how we did,” he said. “Now we’re finding it out every week and managing for it going forward.”

Mr. Kastle said AIB International is really looking at how it tracks new business, as well as how to manage and interact with clients.

“We are still working through how we track this new business,” he said. “This will be a big focus for us this year.”