Friday, March 23, 2012

Thoughts on "selling" quality

ASQ CEO Paul Borawski writes in March's blog: "How do you "sell" quality?" This is a great question and I wish I had a simple answer for it. As a professional in quality and performance improvement, like many of you, I do my best to promote quality and coach organizations in building a quality culture. Were my efforts successful at all times? Not necessarily. For instance, when there is a quality issue with products or service, everyone seems to agree and loudly say that "we need to do a better job", "quality must be our no.1 priority", and so on. After the meeting is adjourned, people are back to their business and usual ways. In the end, not much has changed and problems reoccur. I have often witnessed situations like this and I always asked myself why organizations "do not always do what they say they do". If quality is not built into an organization's culture, one or two people in quality department who are trying to make a difference will not be enough. Top management must commit to quality and build a culture where there is accountability, motivation and strong understanding of expectations. It may take years for an organization to reach the summit. There should be more emphasis on hiring senior executives who understands quality along with an excellent track record. Managers and employees should be encouraged to exceed expectations by providing incentives and on-going training. Performance scorecards should tie into this so that quality is not only perceived as quality department's job. Most importantly, organization's vision, mission and values must represent the commitment to quality and operational excellence. I believe and hope that this commitment will be much more necessary for companies to survive in a highly competitive global market. Today's buyers have the option to compare products and services online. They are not only looking at the price, but also for brands and names that are known to have excellent quality. Ratings and customer reviews influence buyers' decisions. So, who will be the winner here? The one that sells high quality at low prices..