Quality Management



Quality of a product or service is ultimately what a customer experiences relative to his/her expectations, while using the product or service. If perceived expectations are met, the customer is satisfied; if his /her expectations are exceeded, the customer is delighted. The essence of quality management is to provide value to the customer in the eight dimensions of quality, propounded by Garvin (1988), viz. performance, reliability, conformance, durability, aesthetics and perceived quality. In the case of a service, behavioral aspects of persons interfacing with customers also count. The concept of quality is dynamic in nature due to the increasing expectations of customers and actions of competitors. The key success factor is to understand customer perceptions and requirements in their own words (Voice of the customer) and translate them into products/services, by aligning organizational processes and systems to deliver customer value. Quality Management is holistic as it covers the whole chain of processes of value addition to the customer.

From a customer's point of view, quality or cost or schedule is not the sole deciding criterion. When customers evaluate the products and services they receive, they make trade off among all the three key factors in order to maximize value. The challenge that suppliers face is to provide their customers with maximum value, which often is a balancing act among quality, cost, and schedule Focus on customers is important to retain customers in a fiercely competitive environment. It is estimated that it costs five times to develop a new customer than to retain existing customers. Customers will switch from supplier to supplier for any number of perceived reasons such as better service, courtesy, ambience, product features, cost, timeliness etc. Effective organizations need to focus on determining what customers want and value. Segmenting, targeting positioning, advertising, promoting, grievance handing are not enough. Effective organizations talk to customers, translate the "voice of the customer" into appropriate actions and align key business processes to support what customers want. Thus they meet customer expectations right "first time and every time

Customer's definition of quality is best described by Armand Feingaum, "Quality is a customer determination based on the his\her actual experience with the product or service, measured against his/her requirement stated/unstated, conscious or merely sensed, technically operational or entirely subjective---always represents a moving target in a competitive market".

Customer value judgments are complex summing up to benefits relative to cost. Customer is not buying a product but its benefits. Perceived value is the customer's view about these benefits. It goes beyond customer satisfaction and extends to future transactions as well. If customers perceive their overall experience with a product/service as valuable, they will most likely purchase it in future. Effective organizations continually seek to increase their customers' perceived value of their products/services



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