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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quality Customer Service is All About The Quality of Design

On ASQ’s Blog, President Paul Borawksi asks what the role of quality is customer service.
When you think of “quality,” do you think of customer service? What do you think is the role of quality—whether the “big Q” or the “little q”—in customer service?
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of any organization. If customers aren’t satisfied, they will take their business elsewhere and the organization won’t last.

The responsibility of delivering quality products and services to customers lies on the shoulders of every single individual who is even remotely associated with the organization. It is not only the management but also employees irrespective of their designation, suppliers, clients, customers who need to come up with improvement ideas to make foolproof systems and processes to deliver quality products which meet and exceed the expectations of end- users.

The meaning of quality differs depending upon circumstances and perceptions. For example, quality is a different concept when focusing on tangible products versus the perception of a quality service.

Fundamentally, there are three levels of quality customer service:

First level: Conformance to Customers basic requirements, includes safety /health.

Second level: Customer satisfaction with Customer's expressed requirements.

Third level: Customer delight with unexpected new quality achieved by meeting customer's latent requirements.

Remember that long term profitability isn’t as much in winning customers as in keeping customers. Each individual customer’s perception of your company will determine how well you do and that perception will depend on the level of customer service you provide.

Big Q and little q is a term coined by Dr. Juran and is key in fully understanding quality. It contrasts the difference between managing for quality in all aspects of business process, products and services which is Big Q – or quality of design.  While little q relates to a much more limited capacity of quality of manufacturing (e.g. quality control activities).

Quality of design: Thoughtfulness and processes that lead to user delight, that make it likely that someone will seek out a product, pay extra for it or tell a friend.

Quality of manufacture: Removing any variation in tolerances that a user will notice or care about.

To survive and thrive in a very competitive landscape, companies need to focus on the Big Q – or quality of design. Quality of manufacturing is important to control defects, but remarkability can only be built into the design. These are emerging views on quality, and the ones we cannot afford to ignore.

Customer satisfaction is a very important part of quality management because it directly involves the products and services that are made available as well as what goes into the manufacturing process. That is why companies strive to offer products of the highest quality and work hard to maintain that level and make improvements or change where ever necessary. That is what managers work very hard to do and why teams are constantly learning new techniques and processes.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own. 

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