Bringing Quality Goods and Services to the Community

Posted June 21, 2011
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Customer Satisfaction Network 530

In late 2008, the Atlanta Civic Site began to part­ner with res­i­dents, the Cen­ter for the Study of Social Pol­i­cy (CSSP) and Consumer’s Union to explore how to use CSSP’s cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion frame­work could sup­port NPU‑V res­i­dents in improv­ing their access to qual­i­ty goods and ser­vices through local busi­ness­es and institutions.

The frame­work enables res­i­dents to tar­get spe­cif­ic con­sumer issues impact­ing their com­mu­ni­ties, assess the val­ue of exist­ing goods and ser­vices to the con­sumer and devel­op strate­gies to address con­cerns raised through their inquiries. It is cen­tral to civic site efforts to nur­ture com­mu­ni­ty build­ing and civic engage­ment, rais­ing the voic­es of res­i­dents as informed, edu­cat­ed and engaged con­sumers with the right to share their lev­el of sat­is­fac­tion with the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices in their neigh­bor­hoods and demand.

In 2009, res­i­dents from NPU’s V, X and Y began to draw on the Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion Frame­work to orga­nize a grass­roots cam­paign and iden­ti­fied their first three tar­get areas for inves­ti­ga­tion: ear­ly learn­ing and K‑12 edu­ca­tion; nutri­tion­al ser­vices and gro­cery stores; and the avail­abil­i­ty of high-qual­i­ty goods, ser­vices and prod­ucts in the community.

The frame­work has three com­po­nents: the Con­sumer Advo­ca­cy Group, Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion Net­work and Will­ing Ser­vice Provider Network.

The Con­sumer Advo­ca­cy Group is a group of res­i­dents who func­tion as the pol­i­cy­mak­ers” for the effort, set­ting pro­to­cols and build­ing the agen­da for explor­ing cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion in the com­mu­ni­ty. In imple­ment­ing the Cus­tomer Ser­vice Frame­work in their com­mu­ni­ty, these res­i­dents have met with the Geor­gia Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s con­sumer affairs divi­sion to gath­er infor­ma­tion on qual­i­ty stan­dards for gro­cery and food stores and the role of con­sumers in advo­cat­ing for that lev­el of qual­i­ty. They have also worked close­ly with the More­house School of Med­i­cine’s com­mu­ni­ty health depart­ment to con­duct a data sur­vey on goods and ser­vices in the area and to iden­ti­fy the built, social and ser­vice envi­ron­ments required for a healthy, com­plete neighborhood.

The Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion Net­work is a broad­er group of res­i­dents who inves­ti­gate the avail­abil­i­ty and qual­i­ty of tar­get­ed goods and ser­vices in the com­mu­ni­ty. Through secret shop­ping,” research and oth­er activ­i­ties to test the qual­i­ty stan­dards of goods and ser­vices, these res­i­dents iden­ti­fy the impact, inequities and dis­par­i­ties in the pro­vi­sion of goods and ser­vices in their neighborhoods.

The Will­ing Ser­vice Provider Net­work — of which the civic site is a mem­ber — is a group of busi­ness­es, insti­tu­tions and ser­vice providers that agree to be mon­i­tored as a way of receiv­ing reg­u­lar ongo­ing feed­back from res­i­dents and oth­er customers.

The part­ners hope that this new res­i­dent strat­e­gy will pro­vide a mech­a­nism for the com­mu­ni­ty to hold the civic and oth­er ser­vice providers — pub­lic and pri­vate — account­able for the effec­tive­ness and qual­i­ty of the ser­vices and sup­port pro­grams avail­able in the neighborhood.

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