IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY
Quality is the business of doing business —Anonymous
The importance of quality, be it in product or service, cannot be overemphasized. Just study some of the tips given from time to time to make matters easier for everyone. For instance, Indian Government’s Postal Department, one of the most extensive, popular and efficient in the world issues guidelines such as “PIN Code helps speed up your mail. If the PIN Code in your address is missing or inaccurate, please send us the addressed portion of this wrapper indicating the correct PIN Code. This will enable faster delivery of your mail.” PIN Code in our country is equivalent to ZIP Code in USA. Quality is the buzzword these days and everybody talks about it, the politicians from public platforms, the company executives from business fora, and of course, the common man on the street. Nevertheless, few understand the true meaning of the word quality and fewer still are able and willing to put quality in its true perspective in the changing context of the liberalization and globalization where the national boundaries for freer trade and commerce are slowly, but surely, breaking down. In the olden times, quality had a simple definition — a product or service should fit the purpose for which it was intended. For example, a part should fit another part without much effort. Thus a standard or specification was all that was necessary for the part to meet, nothing else. So many an industrial designer/manufacturer was concerned with making a product/service to meet its standard or specification. This resulted in making the customer a secondary objective to be satisfied. “Fitness for use” was the predominant concept, to the exclusion of everything else. This went on for quite some-time and consumers did a get a raw deal when confronted with statements like “Our product/service is fit for the
CONSUMER AND QUALITY
purpose for which it was intended. If that does not satisfy you, tough luck. We can do very little about it,” would be the bland statement. Strangely, often it was the producer/manufacturer who decided such a ‘fitness for the purpose’ to the exclusion of the customer. Fortunately, we have come a long way by now in understanding the true meaning of quality and customer satisfaction. Consequently, the allencompassing meaning of the word quality means: “Total and continuous satisfaction” while using a product/service. Such a holistic concept for quality is universally accepted that benefits the customer since he/she is the focus of attention by everyone in the design/manufacture/sale/ distribution chain. Quality means the product has, preferably, all or most of the undermentioned characteristics as detailed below: ♦ It has the right quality. ♦ Is safe, reliable, and long lasting. ♦ It’s economical to the customer to use it till it lasts. ♦ It’s delivered on time. ♦ Its price is right. ♦ Its customer support is good, polite, quick and responsive. ♦ Its after-sales service is polite and competent with availability of genuine spare-parts and repair cost is affordable. ♦ Disposal of product/service presents no problem and is environmentally friendly. ♦ ‘Buy-back’ schemes of used items for new are user-friendly. ♦ The total life-cycle cost to the customer (the ‘cradle-to-grave’ cost) is optimum. ♦ Conforms to norms of ethics and does not infringe on any trademark or patent laws and is genuine. Its potential for pollution is within acceptable limits. ♦ No unethical practices like underhand dealings, employment of child labour, exploiting the employees/workers are used as business practices. In brief, stages in the evolution of the concept of quality may be seen as depicted in the chart below: M eets Sp ecification s/ Stand ards Fit for use M eets or exceeds total custom er satisfaction
IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY
As stated earlier, quality is the business of doing business. The race is on to capture a bigger slice of the market...