Why Should Quality Matter More To Your Business?
Businesses have a tendency to look at quality from their own point of view, encouraged by industry pundits with vested interests to strive for the perfect process. The benefits of doing so, they say, are plenty: reduce waste, cut costs and keep the management team happy.
Yet to only see things from the organisation’s perspective is to ignore your business’s most important stakeholders: customers. Without them, the quality of your process doesn’t matter a bit.
Since it costs five times more on average to gain a new customer than it does to keep one (source: Forbes), building loyalty among your customer base should be a top priority.
Quality matters to your customers
According to a recent poll by research consultancy Rare, four in five consumers rate quality as the most important factor in them becoming a loyalty customer of a brand or organisation. In fact, quality was second only to price (which you might naturally expect to be the top element of choice), ahead of other aspects including convenience, location and trust.
Quality itself can be broken down into several areas. All customers want the same things: quality that means value for money; reliability; and a service tailored to them. Most people are content if one of those things is present, but your most demanding customers will want all three. And if they don’t get full quality, they’ll look elsewhere for it.
Consider this. Each time they place an order, your customers will also lodge the same demands. They will want:
- a particular product or service with specifications to suit them e.g. colour, style, size, timely, accurate
- the product or service to work (i.e. be fit for purpose) – first time and ongoing
- an ordering system that is easy to use, and simple lines of communication with your sales and customer service teams when required
- the product/service to meet their own quality requirements by doing the job it was bought to do
- to agree when, how and in what packaging it is delivered
Why it’s worth investing in quality
It’s true that building high-quality processes into your process can bring pressures on cost and resource. This is mainly because your business will have to stretch beyond its existing comfort zone to do something different.
However, the benefits more than outweigh this investment if it’s done right.
Firstly, quality builds trust – vital for a business’s long-term success. Secondly, that trust leads to positive recommendation from your customers to other potential customers. This is crucial in an age when a good or bad experience can be shared by people in an instant via social media platforms.
Next comes a reduction in customer complaints. This in itself strips out cost from your operations. Plus, getting quality right first time significantly boosts the chances of customer repeat purchase. Meanwhile, quality of production can distinguish your goods from those of your competition.
Failed quality requires rework – either to replace the product/service or to improve it. The additional time and resources required to do this will be charged to your company, but you won’t be able to be raise the sale price.
Every time you catch a failed item early on – or ideally do not produce one in the first place – you are allowing your company to make more money. Remember that the waste derived from reworking physical products has to be stored, transported and then disposed of – yet more charges that were not in the original planned process.
Finally, as a result, studies show a close correlation between quality and profitability. Businesses really can improve their all-important return on investment levels by nipping faults in the bud and lowering service costs.
Building quality into your operations
The internationally recognised standard that covers quality management systems is ISO 9001. This is something that every business intent on building the highest possible level of quality into their operations should strive to achieve.
Certification shows to the outside world – customers included – that you’re serious about quality. It can also act as a way of holding your organisation to account, because, from the boardroom down, your firm’s performance will be measured against the ability to operate systems that guarantee high-quality production.
However, it’s clearly not yet front of mind for all businesses. According to a survey for Miele’s Professional Division (source: Quality World), companies disagree on how to measure quality. Many focus on reliability (46%), others on product durability (29%), still more on provision of defect-free goods (28%).
There’s no majority approach, and none of these measures cover direct customer relationships or customer service as specific areas of concern. Furthermore, most of the chosen metrics fail to focus on catching these issues before a sale, instead reacting to them afterwards. This could hardly be seen as building in quality at source.
The good news is, however, that your business could be the one that stands above rivals in your sector, location or whichever other measure you choose. Nailing down quality will leave you streets ahead.
Quality counts. Building in the strict controls of ISO 9001 not only helps companies achieve quality, but also cuts waste-related costs, leads to stronger customer ties, enhances workforce skills (and therefore staff morale) and improves profitability.
It can’t happen overnight or without investment. But some changes can be made with minimal negative, or even positive, financial impact (such as catching problems earlier and so reducing waste costs) – and the benefits from these can be used to reinvest to improve your process further.
Any investment will yield great differences and longer-term gains for years to come. To find out more about how this can be done: contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call Qualitation on 0345 600 6975.