“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”
– Peter F. Drucker, Renowned Management Expert
We’ve been focusing this blog series on delivery systems – how your company gets your product or service to the customer. A good delivery system will be efficient and have the appropriate amount of capacity to handle your production needs. But what about quality? It doesn’t matter if you have the most efficient and cost-effective system on the planet. If you are delivering an inferior product or something that doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations, you will quickly lose sales, as well as your reputation.
If you haven’t analyzed your delivery system from a quality control standpoint, you should. Here are some things to evaluate and consider:
What is Your Commitment to Quality? – If you want to deliver a quality product, you have to be committed to doing just that. Does your company have a clear vision of how you define quality? Are management and staff aligned on that vision? Do they define quality the same way? Take the time to create a mission statement for quality in your production system.
Who Is Responsible for Quality? – The responsibility for quality should be shouldered by everyone in the company. That being said, the customer should have a point person to call whenever there are questions about products or services they’ve received. Don’t ever make the customer call every department in your shop trying to figure out who can “make it right.” Do they call their sales rep? Do they have an account manager? Make sure the lines of communication are well-established within your production system.
What Quality Control Measures Do You Have in Place? – You do have some, don’t you? In short, how does your production and delivery team know if they are producing the product correctly and to the customer’s specifications? Are there checks at several points on the production line? Have these quality specifications been clearly communicated to the production team? Do they have any input or ideas on how to improve quality?
Are They Sufficient? – You should have a clear target of what percentage of errors you are willing to allow for in your production line. Each person on the line should be well aware of what they need to do to meet those performance measurements. If you have Quality Control measures in place, but you are still delivering products that are underwhelming your clients, you may need to add more quality control checks to the delivery system. Assess what your system currently allows for. Late delivery? Insufficient packaging? Incomplete orders? Find out where you need to tighten controls and set performance targets for your team in those areas.
How Do You Handle Breakdowns in Quality? – Do you involve the whole team and look for a better way to make the product? Do you assess where the bottleneck or breakdown occurred and make changes to improve the process? Who manages these breakdowns with the customer? Does the customer feel as though they are getting good customer service, even when something goes wrong? How much are these breakdowns costing you?
It’s important to remember that delivery systems aren’t just for companies producing widgets. Service providers need to consistently monitor quality if they want to deliver quality consulting or creative services. Even if you aren’t producing a physical product, you are delivering a project or service that needs to meet your client’s expectations. Quality goes a long way toward good word of mouth and repeat business and can be the difference between winning and losing in the customer’s eyes.
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