There are many definitions of what “quality” is. The best I found is that quality refers to what a product or service can do and that it does it without errors and is consistent in what it is supposed to do. So quality is something that companies have to strive to achieve and should, therefore, manage it.
If a company wants to satisfy its clients, then it should pay attention to quality management. Quality management comes in many flavors – by inspecting, by controlling, by including key people and by setting standards in the company that can not be ignored.
By inspecting and screening out defects in its products or services before customers noticed them, a company can be one step ahead of the game. Services and products will be streamlined and be of high “quality”.
By controlling or by detecting quality problems and solving them in a systematic way, companies can ensure their products or service are perceived to be of high quality over the long term. A systematic approach ensures consistency in terms of quality. And consistency is what build brands. What is a brand?
By including every employee in the company in the quality management process, companies can make sure they understand the expectation and perceptions of its customers. This means seeing things from a customer’s point of view. Customers cannot be seen as external to a company. They are a part of it and therefore quality becomes paramount to such a company.
Take the case of the Four Seasons Hotel, a chain of over 63 hotels in 29 countries. Four Seasons Hotel is known for its high quality of service and has even won several awards. From the beginning, Four Seasons wanted to make the quality of service a competitive advantage and a guiding principle. This meant treating its customers with courtesy and intelligent and treating its employees with humanity and respect.
A company does not have to be huge or a multimillion-dollar enterprise to appreciate and implement quality management practices. Take the case of a tiny restaurant and cafe, in the middle of New York’s West Village, with a dozen tables or so. Tea and Sympathy became a fashionable landmark and known for its quality of service. The guiding rules of service or printed on the menu for all to see. It is also a reminder for its employees on how to maintain consistent quality in the way it treats its customers.
Customer satisfaction should be measured on a regular basis and the root causes of any short comings should be immediately dealt with. Looking at the core processes usually addresses the reasons for any failure in quality. How are things done? Could they have done better to improve quality and increase customer satisfaction? These are the types of questions that must be asked regularly.
For further information on quality management here is a list of useful websites:
The British Quality Foundation is a not-for-profit organization promoting business excellence.
The Juran Institute‘s mission statement is to provide clients with the concepts, methods, and guidance for attaining leadership in quality.
The American Society for Quality website for good professional insights.