You know that product quality is important.

Make low quality products and soon you’ll be drowning in a sea of major problems. Dismal sales, skyrocketing liabilities, floundering productivity, and stratospheric costs. These and more will all be yours when you produce junk products.

So, it’s important to understand what product quality really means.

You see, manufacturers don’t always step back to see the complete picture of what quality is about. Often times they just focus on how closely their products are being made to spec. And that’s important. But…

There is more to quality than just producing to specifications.

You have to understand that quality is about perspective. For example, the customer, the product manager and the product developer will all have very different views of product quality. So, you need to take all these views into account and decide which one is the most important.

Who Has the Most Important Perspective on Product Quality?

Ultimately, it’s the perspective of the customer that is most important. Because it’s their perspective of your product that will make or break your success.

Sure, you can look at how well your products match their design intent. And you can verify whether they’re being produced correctly. But that’s just not enough to ensure quality.

If you want the customer to have the best-possible impression, you need to take a holistic view of product quality. You need to look at it from all angles. That way, you can shape your customer’s experience of your product from their first interaction with it through the last.

Do You Know These 4 Determinants of Product Quality?

In order to get a more holistic view of product quality, it’s helpful to think about the four classic determinants you learned in Econ 201. Remember? No? Well, here they are…

#1 Quality of Design

Quality of Design is all about how good your product specifications actually are. Sure, a quality manufacturer can make your products to spec. But those products have to be well-designed to meet your customer’s needs and requirements in the first place.

# 2 Quality of Conformance

Quality of Conformance comes into play once you’ve designed your product and outlined all its specifications. It lets you see how well the manufactured products match your design. And it lets you know if they were produced correctly.

#3 Ease of Use

Ease of Use is about the experience the customer has once they’ve bought your product. Aside from being designed well, you have to make sure your customer has all the instructions they need to use it. And it has to be clear how they should handle things like unpacking, assembling, using, maintaining, making adjustments, etc.

#4 After-Sales Service

After-Sales Service has a huge impact on the customer’s perception of quality. By providing excellent customer service, you ensure that customers will get the most out of your products. They’ll have a better perception of your company. So it’s important to recognize that producing great quality doesn’t stop the second your widgets come off the production line.

Don’t Forget About the 8 Dimensions of Quality

Want to really be able to say you’ve got great quality? If so, you need to make sure you understand David A. Garvin’s eight dimensions of quality.

What are the eight dimensions?

They are:

  1. Performance
  2. Features
  3. Reliability
  4. Conformance
  5. Durability
  6. Serviceability
  7. Aesthetics
  8. Perceived Quality

We can go into each one in more detail another time. But, for now, you can get the gist by just looking at them.

Now… Keep in mind here that there may be instances where improving one of the eight dimensions can be detrimental to others.

For example, a Swiss army knife is a great all-purpose tool. It has a lot of features. But those little scissors are not always going to be enough to get the job done. By adding more features, performance suffers.

Got the picture?

The key here is making sure that you’ve got the right balance for the customer you’re trying to serve. Make sure you’re meeting their needs to the best of your ability.

A Customer-Centric Company Produces the Best Quality

It’s important to remember that every interaction you have with the customer is adding to the overall impression of your quality.

They evaluate things like how the product was sold to them, how it was delivered, how it was packaged, how it performed, how long it lasted and how well it was supported.

Quality is about how well you “meet or exceed customer expectations.” And you have to remember that with regards to every point of contact. It starts with the design phase, it continues through production and long after your customer buys the product.

So, by making your company customer-centric, you can produce high-quality products that you can always be proud of.

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