Monday, July 2, 2012

Quality: Product, Service or Beyond

Is quality applicable only to a product or service, or is it much beyond than that? This is the discussion topic for this month. 

Paul, in his blog post,  says, "For some executives, their understanding of quality is exclusive to product. For others, it’s the improved performance of the enterprise, which includes the product/service".   

I believe that today's customers perceive quality at an Enterprise or an Organization level while buying products or availing services.  An Enterprise, typically, encompasses both product and service quality.  For a top-class Enterprise, service quality is blended to the process of creating high quality products.  Let us look at few examples (see below) where service quality is evident as part of product quality and vice versa.

Product Quality
i) When Apple introduces a new product, say iPAD 3, most customers tend to buy that product just by looking at the Apple brand.  Apple indirectly conveys an embedded quality in the product that they sell.  Here, for customers, quality is already inbuilt to the process that produces Apple products.

ii) Toyota cars, for example, are of high quality is the perception of majority of customers across the world.  Many customers firmly believe that Japanese car manufacturers follow total quality management and  continuous improvement processes which, in turn, enable them to produce good and reliable cars.

Service Quality:
i) Maruti, the largest auto manufacturer of India, is perceived as the best "after sales service" provider in the Indian auto industry.  Maruti cars are often sold in larger numbers than competition, mainly due to their high service quality and cheaper spare auto parts.  Customers prioritize high quality service and are, often, least bothered about the product being purchased.

ii) McKinsey brand itself brings a great amount of confidence and high quality feeling for a customer hiring them for consulting engagements.  Customers tend to pay them a lot higher than other consulting firms.  
The above examples convey that "Quality" should be every where.  It should be visible physically as part of the product and could be perceived as part of service offered.   Older schools of thought looked at this as "Quality Control" and "Quality Assurance".  Today's world understands quality at Enterprise level - be it product quality or service quality, and  customers know to measure Enterprise quality.     

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