Product quality is also how well the product does what it’s supposed to do, and how well it holds up over time. Some consumers view quality as a price point while others appreciate a product because it’s “greener.”
Corporate executives and consumers have in recent years adopted divergent views of product quality. Several recent surveys indicate how wide the quality perception gap is:
All of these companies enforce quality control to ensure the best possible service or product is delivered to the client or consumer.
- The Production-Service Connection
- How Do Customers Define Quality?
- Watching for key trends
- Ensuring Quality After the Sale
As mundane as these questions may sound, the answers provide essential information on how to build an effective customer-driven quality program. We should not forget that customers, after all, serve as the ultimate judge of quality in the marketplace.
The Production-Service Connection
Product performance and customer service are closely linked in any quality program; the greater the attention to product quality in production, the fewer the demands on the customer service operation to correct subsequent problems.
Office equipment manufacturers, for example, are designing products to have fewer manual and more automatic controls. Not only are the products easier to operate and less susceptible to misuse but they also require little maintenance and have internal troubleshooting systems to aid in problem identification. The up-front investment in quality minimizes the need for customer service.
How Do Customers Define Quality?
Even with such information, though, pinpointing what consumers really want is no simple task. For one thing, consumers cannot always articulate their quality requirements. They often speak in generalities, complaining, for instance, that they bought “a lemon” or that manufacturers “don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
Consumers’ priorities and perceptions also change over time. Taking automobiles as an example, market data compiled by SRI International suggest that consumer priorities shifted from styling in 1970 to fuel economy in 1975 and then to quality of design and performance in 1980.