Customer Definition Of Quality

First, quality refers to the actual product or service. Philip Crosby, the founder of the Crosby Quality College, once said that the quality of your product can be defined as the product doing what you sold it to do and continues doing it without breaking down. A quality product works. It performs the function that you said it would perform when you sold it. It gets the results that you said it would get when the customer bought it, like the slogan that Timex watches used for half a century. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking. This is the first definition of quality. The product or service works. It does what you said it would do. Most of your problems with customers will occur when your customers buy a product or service from you and then fail to get the result, they expect it. Your product or service does not do what it was sold to do. Your product or service breaks down and stops performing the function for which it was bought. This causes your customers to be frustrated, disappointed and angry. Surveys of thousands of dissatisfied customers found that unhappy customers did not necessarily want their money back. They did not want to sue. All they wanted was for the product that you sold them to perform, as you had told them it would. They just wanted to be made whole. They were not unreasonable or demanding. They just wanted the company to deliver on what it promised when they bought the product in the first place.
Second, part of quality from the customer\’s perspective was even more interesting. Customers said that quality also included the way that the product is served or delivered. The human or emotional component turned out to be more important than the actual product itself. A recent survey of customers who had left one company for another asked them why they had changed. Only a small percentage matches in quality or price. The majority, almost 70 percent, had switched because of a perceived indifference on the part of someone in the company. Most people who stopped buying from a business do so because the human element is deficient in some way. They phone in with a question or complaint and are either routed through a complicated answering and voicemail system or are left on hold for a long time. This, unfortunately, is quite common.
A major computer manufacturer was recently castigated in the business press because the average person calling on its problem hotline was required to wait for more than 30 minutes before someone picked up the phone. Their stock value fell by billions of dollars as a result of this negative story, and people just stopped buying their product. Customers are very sensitive because of the incredible competition for their business. Customers can be picky and demanding with regard to how they are treated. Customers will deal with the company only if they feel that they are appreciated and respected. They won\’t walk away from a supplier that they have used for years. If someone in that company is ruder, uncaring and they will never come back.

Not long ago, I found a company with a need to purchase several thousand dollars of their services. The owner, a professional businesswoman, had come highly recommended.

But when I phoned the woman who answered it was one of the nastiest people I had ever spoken to. She treated me as though I had just tried to steal her purse. Her first question was very abrupt. What do you want?

When I said I would like to speak with the president of the company about using her services, she said she\’s busy right now. Why don\’t you just call back later? I gently but firmly insisted that I had arranged to phone her boss at this time and ask her to please tell her boss that I was on the phone. When I finally got through to the president, I said it as gently as possible. The woman who was answering your phone is not helping your business. She laughed and said, haha, I know she\’s got a terrible personality. But you know how hard it is to get good people today, huh? That was enough for me. I decided not to use her services and found another supplier. I learned later that her business had gone broke. No surprise. And sadly enough, this is not all that uncommon. We used to call our receptionist, our front office manager. I learned this from many excellent companies. They know that the person who answers the phone sets up the customer emotionally for everything that happens afterward. It all begins with the person who answers the phone. A cheerful, friendly live receptionist makes the customer feel happy that he or she called. An impatient, bored, rude, or indifferent receptionist can turn the customer off and decide him or her immediately against doing business with his firm. This is true of every customer contact. Remember the moment of truth I talked about earlier? Everything counts. Every person with whom your customer talks and everything you do for and with your customers makes an impression. Positive or negative? Nothing is neutral. The emotional element in your customer’s interactions with you and your company is the fundamental ingredient of quality and must be managed carefully all the time.

As a frequent flier, I travel on almost every airline in America. As a result, I often find myself flying on Southwest Airlines, especially for short hops around the Southwest. It\’s one of my favorite airlines, not because of first-class seating and delicious meals. It offers neither, but because of its friendly people and service because of its reputation for friendly service. It really surprised me when one of their flight personnel treated me with extreme rudeness on a recent trip. I noticed that this person was abrupt and rude to everyone, not just me. It was so unusual that I got his name and then wrote to the president of Southwest Airlines in Dallas. I explain how much I like Southwest Airlines, what had happened, and how much that person\’s behavior had offended me over the next two weeks. I got three phone calls and two letters from the president’s secretary. They understood that I was expressing my displeasure only because I liked the airline so much. They were friendly and responsive. They were also appalled and distressed that one of their employees had treated one of their customers so badly, especially since I flew a lot. The second time they called, they told me they had conducted an internal review and found that this person had received complaints about his behavior in the past. They assured me that it would not happen again. The third time they call. They asked me if they could send me a gift of appreciation for having brought this customer service problem to their attention. What an airline. And a couple of days later, I received a little dictaphone in the mail with Southwest Airlines on it, and I still have it, and I still think of them in a positive way. There have been many books and articles written around and about the concept of the brand. Tom Peters talks about the brand called you and how each person should strive to have a unique personal brand that sets him or her apart from everyone else. Products, services and companies need brands as well.