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PORTER: Quality: Customers still know it when they see it

Quality. It was a big deal a while back. Application glitches. Software bugs. Products sold to customers that were declared good enough. Service that was lackluster.

Then the quality movement took hold with experts like Demming and Total Quality Management (TQM) were all the rage. Quality training, improved product quality and quality-based service was in full swing at companies big and small.

The quality movement, I believe, is on its way around again, and we need to revisit tools and processes for getting even better at quality in today’s digital world. Then as now, customers still know quality when they see it.

Here are three tips culled from my customer service book “Quest for Loyalty” to ensure your company is providing top quality services and products to your customers.

Practice accuracy in all your company does.

New Apps that don’t quite work as advertised. Constant product recalls — the auto industry is probably the biggest offender — that seem to be the norm and not the exception. Service mostly relegated to a company’s website often staffed by service representatives with either little training or no knowledge of local issues, responses never seem right.

Practicing accuracy and getting things right promotes trust with customers. And where there isn’t much trust, there usually is not much of a customer relationship. Operating a financially sustainable business relies on customer trust.

Demonstrate an ongoing commitment to quality in your business.

Commitments are both external and internal for companies today, especially in the quality arena. Customers rely on you to fulfill commitments you make while employees expect the same. If company management doesn’t make quality a key goal, how can that business expect employees to focus on quality?

An important area to employees has always been training, and building skills in the quality area is more important than ever.

Always focus on quality products and quality service.

Companies are beginning to take up the quality imperative. Robotics are helping to improve quality in everything from medical procedures to auto manufacturing. Businesses are moving call centers back to the U.S. after realizing that off shoring customer service was eroding customer trust.

Today’s customer expects world class quality and no defects in everything they buy from companies. In years past, businesses gave customers good enough in order to get to market quickly, but today is different. After all, a faulty air bag or a software mistake in onboard electronics could be fatal.

To summarize, quality product and service management is here again in the digital age. Quality in the products a company produces today. Quality in the service a business provides.

Quality is an area we all must sharpen up on once again. And we have new tools and procedures to help us along the way.

Remember to practice accuracy in everything you do. Getting it right every time is the new normal.

Recommitting your business to quality should be a central strategy in 2015. That commitment is important to both customers and employees alike.

And the customer experience today depends on having a quality company as customer expectations continue to rise.

Just as in years past, customers know a quality organization when they see it.

 

William Porter has published books on customer experience and employee engagement and speaks regularly at business schools. Contact him at bpwilliamaporter@gmail.com.

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