Quality is a Matter of Customer Focus

When looking at quality management in any type of company, it is important to understand what exactly is meant by quality.  While this might seem like a question with an obvious answer, it is actually somewhat more complex than most people would think.  Quality will mean something different to each industry and even each company within an industry.  There are many factors which can go into determining what quality is and how it should be interpreted.

5S-guide-and-posterCustomer Demands

One of the first things to look at when figuring out whether or not the product or service being produced is of high quality is to look at what the customer is expecting.  It doesn’t make sense to make a product out of expensive materials if the customer only expects it to last a very short time.  One example of this would be toys which are given out at fast-food restaurants.  Customers know they are cheap and won’t last long, so as long as they work for a short time they are meeting the quality expectations of the customer.

For other products, like cars, the customers have much higher demands.  In many cases, the customers expect that the vehicle should run with little to no problems for many years.  If the vehicle is not meeting that expectation, the customers will begin to complain and demand that the problems get fixed.  In this case the quality standards are not being met and must be adjusted.

Types of Quality

Quality is determined by more than just the materials which something is made out of.  Customers will determine their impression of the overall quality by rating their entire experience.  For example, if a customer has a bad experience with a sales representative, they are most likely not going to be happy with the overall experience and product.

This is why it is essential to look at the big picture when addressing quality problems.  Even if you’re improving the overall quality of a product, if you don’t fix what the customers are complaining about, then you are costing the company time and money.  Taking the time to survey customers or look at what types of things they are complaining about is essential for finding out how to improve the quality of a product in a meaningful way.

No Need to Improve

Quality is important in all businesses, and if you don’t give it the necessary attention, the customers will quickly move to a competitor. Quality control departments often have a difficult job of identifying exactly what needs to be fixed and what can be left alone.  Even when a particular area can be easily identified as an opportunity for improved quality, it is still important to determine whether or not it is worth making the change.

If the costs associated with making the improvement are greater than the benefit, they will realize that it doesn’t make sense to make this improvement.  This can be a complex decision to make, but when done properly, companies can make necessary quality improvements without wasting time and money.

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