Why Put Quality First?
What does the word ‘quality’ mean to you? In an ideal world, what a commercial organisation understands by the term should equate to how their customers see it. The dictionary definition is: something’s degree of excellence; or, the standard of something measured against other, similar things.
ISO standard 9001 deals directly with Quality management systems and a business’s commitment to consistently meet stringent quality standards. For us, Quality is the bedrock of business and should be front of mind in all of your organisation’s operations.
Quality in, quality out
A recent survey of UK manufacturers for Miele’s professional division identified that improved product quality can lead to a 30% increase in both profitability and revenue (source: Quality World). By itself this statistic should compel all commercial entities to strive for better standards in the quality of their output. But there are other reasons, too.
If your businesses doesn’t instil quality across its operations, customers are the ones who will inevitably suffer. Marketing and customer services experts will tell you that your market demands a consistent, high-quality ‘brand experience’.
Regardless of whether your products and services are consumer or business facing, ISO 9001 Quality systems will hold your operations to the highest standards. Your improved processes will allow your organisation to deliver on its customer promise.
Of course, many companies outsource processes to external suppliers. If this is the case with your business, it’s important to insist the supply chain you’re using has also gained the ISO 9001 Quality standard certification.
For example, you may need a warehousing and logistics supplier to store, pack and ship items for your ecommerce operation. Without the assurances ISO standards bring, how can you guarantee your end customers get the quality they deserve? Some 83% of the Miele survey respondents claimed to have experienced quality problems with outsourcing.
The quality paradox
In the survey, less than four out of 10 (38%) of the manufacturers polled stated their firm valued quality higher than financial performance. That’s despite the boost to the bottom line that companies know quality can bring: 78% stated they thought higher quality breeds growth.
To us, this thinking should be reversed. So what’s stopping most businesses making the leap? It could simply be the case that many don’t realise the tangible business benefits improved quality can bring. But it’s equally likely that they don’t know where to start and how much they’ll need to invest.
If quality remains subservient to financial performance, quality will probably be lower than it should be in order to increase margins. However, that’s a false economy. If the model results in a “race to the bottom” on price at the expense of quality, the market will eventually be deemed price-driven and unreliable. The corollary is high customer churn, feeding into low staff morale at organisations – and margins eroded to nothing.
Quality can put you streets ahead of rivals
That quality means different things to different people can make it a movable feast. This also means it’s a blessing and a curse:
- a curse because this intangible variability is used as an excuse to ignore it
- a blessing because once you start looking, there are so many things you can do to tighten up and improve operations – often with minimal costs. Your results will doubtless be better than they were previously.
As for cost, of course you’ll need to invest time and resource in boosting and maintaining quality. But this is not an expense that will simply increase the costs of doing business. ISO 9001 Quality really can be a game changer and bring long-term customer satisfaction and profitability.
To find out more about how you can address quality concerns with a methodological approach to handling improvements across your organisation – and make increased profit while you are doing it – call Qualitation on 0345 600 6975 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org