Quality Management and Your Small Business
Some small companies provide a service and some companies provide a product and some companies provide a combination of both. Whatever their customers pay them for, almost all small firms figure out very quickly that quality is important. It’s always been important, and now, with reviews posted on the internet on Google or Yahoo/Yelp, quality efforts have acquired an urgency of even greater dimensions.
Poor quality not only loses a customer or client when it happens, the ripple effects after that client posts their experience with your company on the internet spread way out and last a long time.
As in forever, where the internet is concerned.
In the ancient past, before the ubiquity of reviews on the internet (we’re talking approximately 2005), if you made a customer unhappy because of the poor quality of your service or product, he or she might tell 20 people, and then stop talking about it. Now, they post a review on Google, and thousands of people a month might read that review and thousands and thousands more will read that same negative review over the next 5, 10, 15 years. Customer satisfaction is now more important than ever, because now customers that are not satisfied have a gigantic electronic megaphone called the internet with which to express their unhappiness with the quality of your service and product.
And it’s not just Google or the Yelp/Yahoo partnership, it’s a customer putting you on blast on LinkedIn, leaving snarky comments on your Facebook company page, Bing company listings, Angieslist, the white pages online listings, the yellow pages online listings, your company blog, their blog, Twitter, Pininterest, and it just keeps going.
And if you’re in a specific market segment, i.e. restaurants, it’s all of the above PLUS the ratings sites that focus on your segment, in this case, restaurants, likeopentable.com, urbanspoon.com, tripadvisor.com, zagat.com, menuism.com and so forth. Yes, there are a lot of places where dissatisfied customers can now vent.
Quality is more important than ever.
Let’s take a moment and define quality for a moment. Well, actually, it’s already been defined by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and we’re simply going to reprint what they have to say about quality and quality processes.
“A subjective term for which each person has his or her own definition. In technical usage, quality can have two meanings: (1) the characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs and (2) a product or service free of deficiencies.”
A Quality Management System is “The organizational structure, processes, procedures and resources needed to implement, maintain and continually improve the management of quality.” From American Society for Quality (ASQ) .
And, Total Quality Management (TQM) is defined as the continuous process of reducing or eliminating errors in manufacturing, streamlining supply chain management, improving the customer experience and ensuring that employees are up-to-speed with their training. Total quality management aims to hold all parties involved in the production process as accountable for the overall quality of the final product or service.
So, we’ve covered what quality is, and why it’s important, and our next post in January, 2015 will be steps you can take as a small business to implement a basic TQM program.