Manufacturers can no longer count on customer loyalty, but they can expect customers continued demands for quality products and service.

Quality has seemingly fallen out of favor in terms of the number of articles and attention in industry circles; however, it remains a bedrock principle for customer service and profitability (and has arisen frequently in the negative aspect re: product quality from China manufacturers, etc), so I thought I’d resurrect the topic and provide a few tips:

  1. Focus on the customer – quality should exclusively relate to what the customer sees as quality (and what is valued by the customer in the expectation of pricing). It doesn’t matter what Manufacturing or anyone else thinks; the customer’s perception matters.
  2. Focus on prevention vs detection – There tends to be immense pressure when a quality issue arises, so it is easy to run down the path towards too much detection vs. prevention (as I learned by beginning to run down this path before my Director of Quality stopped me). Instead, take a step back and look at the big picture of how to build prevention into the process instead of making quality a separate element of the process.
  3. Metrics – track your key metrics such as customer complaints and parts per million. Reviewing these trends can be enlightening and it will provide important data for decision-making.
  4. Cost of quality – put some effort into understanding your cost of quality. It doesn’t have to be complex; however, understanding the cost of quality in combination with what customers’ value can provide critical information for eliminating waste and meeting/ exceeding customer expectations.
  5. Statistical process control – there is value in building appropriate levels of statistical process control into your quality systems. Do not go overboard; however, it is wise to do what will provide you with valuable decision-making data.