Differentiating Yourself With Quality
A growing interest in quality has been one of the most prominent features of modern business. Poor quality goods and services are increasingly unacceptable to a demanding marketplace; firms without a quality focus risk being rejected in favor of quality conscious competitors.
Meet the expectations of your customers
Working to achieve quality requires a total dedication on the part of everyone in the business. It's not just 'doing the best you can,' or turning out a product without flaws. It's about ensuring that every aspect of the business is up to best practice standards, from the way team members answer the telephone, to the after sales service the business provides.
Think about what happens when you purchase a product or service. You have expectations about such characteristics as its price, its dependability, its performance and its ease of use. Your perceptions of the quality of this product or service will be based on how well, or poorly, it meets your expectations. If it meets or exceeds them all you will conclude you have made a 'quality' purchase. If it disappoints you in any way you will perceive it as inferior to what you expected. If all your expectations are met you can be sure this didn't happen by accident. Quality is only achieved by good business management and requires a lot of time and effort to make it happen.
QC and QA - you need both
The traditional approach to achieving quality, quality control, or 'QC,' as it came to be called, is still valid and used by most businesses. This is essentially a process of inspecting and testing a firm's output and rejecting anything that's faulty. The biggest problem with quality control is that it only picks up flaws after a product has been made or a service has been delivered. This is expensive and doesn't really fix the cause of the problem with quality.
Quality assurance, or 'QA,' is a more cost effective approach. It involves designing and managing every step of the manufacturing and delivery processes in such a way that the possibility of quality flaws is minimized. Quality assurance begins right back at the stage of product design and continues from there. The product is designed to be problem free, along with the manufacturing process and the delivery system. Risks of quality troubles are minimized from the start, and the process receives ongoing attention to keep it that way.
The seven steps to quality
Start by putting yourself in the position of your customers. What do they want? What are their expectations? Be objective so you can honestly say you know what you have to give them. Then take a long, hard look at your business. Look for everything that's wrong and make a personal commitment to fixing it. Now you're ready to base your management on these seven principles and give your business a true quality focus:
Share your personal commitment to quality with your customers, your suppliers and the members of your team.
Talk to your customers and ask what they think is important. Then be sure you give it to them.
Involve your team members. Ask them for their commitment and their suggestions on ways to improve the quality of your products and everything else you do.
Don't just correct mistakes; do whatever it takes to prevent them from happening.
Accept that quality will cost something and know that your customers will pay for it.
Make your service delivery systems better; there's always room for improvement.
Never stop looking for ways to be better at what you do.