February 15, 2006

Quality in Corporate America: who's paying attention?


I’ve noticed a lot of advertisements and online banners bragging about their quality. “Our products are top quality,” “We pride ourselves in creating quality products for you.” So this got me thinking about what exactly is quality and how can corporations use “quality” and set the industry standard.

So what is quality? Quality means pleasing consumers, NOT just protecting them from annoyances. In fact, customers should be used as an absolute standard of performance. If your consumer agrees that your product is of high quality, then it must be.

In addition, quality can be used as a competitive edge and some corporations can set the industry standard. However, we must not confuse quality with insignificant specs that can be easily obtained by competitors.

From research and experience, I believe quality can be categorized in the following “Dimensions of Quality”

Aesthetics

  • Our senses used to judge a product
  • How a product looks, feels, sounds, tastes, or smells

Perceived Quality

  • Image is everything (perceived image)
  • Reputation is powerful

Performance

  • Measurable attributes (100W bulb vs. 60W bulb)
  • Key operating characteristics

Features

  • Bells & Whistles – free drinks on a plane, permanent press on washing machine
  • Flexibility – variations in fabric and color

Reliability

  • Measures: MTBF (Mean time between failure), MTFF (Mean time to first failure)
  • Downtime and maintenance for expensive products

Conformance

  • Product’s ability to meet established design and operating standards

Durability

  • The amount of use one gets from a product before it breaks down and replacement is preferable to continued repair
  • Link to reliability – offer lifetime guarantees
  • Repair and replacement

Serviceability

  • Speed or ease of repair
  • Courtesy and competence
    Complaint handling (1800#’s)

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So this is the easy part, but the hard part is answering this question:

"Which of these dimensions of quality should corporations focus on?"

Think about it for a while, answers to this question will come soon.

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FYI, I used MS Word as a blogging tool for this post...my reactions? 50-50...more to come later. For now find more information here

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