Monday, November 24, 2014

Transformational Quality [Business] Leadership

In his November post to A View from the Q, ASQ CEO Bill Troy explores the linkage between Quality and leadership. Bill suggests that the quality professional, wherever he or she may be and at whatever level of management, must be a leader to be effective.

I subscribe to the theory that the primary role of the Quality leader in any organization is to manage the organizational white spaces at the hand-offs between siloed functions within horizontal work processes and systems.

The most effective leaders possess and expertly demonstrate "soft skills" necessary for promoting and advancing teamwork, collaboration, cultural diversity and a high-performing, engaged workforce, while exhibiting strong project management skills, decisiveness and acute global business acumen.

The successful quality professional / leader is also a teacher, coach, mentor and influencer.


During the first 15 years of my career I focused on the effective application of traditional tools and methods to improve processes and products. Today, as a Quality leader, I strive to be a mentor and coach, helping others to grow and succeed. Today’s increasing rate of change and complexity requires transformational leadership - a performer who achieves results and also a community builder who helps others in the organization to succeed. The rate of change is accelerating exponentially, complexity is growing, "wicked" problems are increasing.

"Transformational leaders establish enhanced, more effective mindsets within their community. They are inspired by a deep understanding of individual and collective purpose; and they successfully bring into creation that which previously did not exist."                                         – EOQ Transformation Summit 2005

Current ASQ Chair Stephen Hacker has authored nine books on the topic of transformational change including most recently, How to Coach Individuals, Teams and Organizations to Master Transformational Change: Surfing Tsunamis. Stephen Hacker defines a transformational leader as one who balances creativity and administrative responsibilities; is analytical yet visionary; energetic and empowering; a performer and also a coach. The transformational leader is equally skilled leading compliance/standardization type activities and breakthrough continuous improvement projects. The transformational leader effectively balances workforce focus to improve internal efficiencies for operational excellence while strengthening the organization's customer focus for sustainable growth.   See illustration below.

*Used with permission. Stephen Hacker, CEO and Founding Partner, Transformation Systems International, LLC (www. more information about Transformational Leadership, please read the paper "Transformational Leadership: Creating Step-Functional Change" by Stephen Hacker.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Using Social Collaboration to Improve Customer Experience

Today's definition of quality is “customer experience”. Customer experience (‘CX’) is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction to interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. I am also reminded of the following perceptions of quality:
  • "Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it.”- Peter Drucker
  • “Customers must get what they want…When they want it, the way they want it, at a fair price.”-Unknown

Customer advocacy is regarded as the ultimate expression of customer engagement and brand loyalty. While a key measure of customer loyalty is “willingness to recommend”; a key measure of customer advocacy is “Net Promoter Score” or word of mouth recommendation. Word of Mouth marketing such as customer reviews, leveraged by social media, seems to outperform traditional forms of corporate marketing and advertising. Building trust is a cornerstone to increased customer advocacy.

Producers in the consumer market have at least two distinctly different - but very important - types of customers: the retail channel partner (“account”), and the end-user (“consumer”). Success in the Consumer market depends on producer's ability to consistently demonstrate and deliver increased profitability to the retailer, while delivering predictable quality and reliability to the consumer. Understanding, supporting, and owning the retail customers’ strategic plans coupled with flawless operational and tactical execution, helps assure preferential placement of the producer's product versus competition, resulting in increased sell-in. But sell-in is not the sole variable that dictates sales growth. The producer must also consistently meet its end-user consumers’ expectations in order to achieve increased purchases, or sell through. Anticipating consumers’ unmet, unarticulated needs through such tools as prototyping, focus panels and QFD, manifesting in exciting, innovative, new products and features help build customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Delivering exceptional service to their retail customers and superior experiences to their consumers ultimately drives the trifecta of increased sell-in, sell-through and frequent replenishment. Operational excellence coupled with consumer-focused continuous improvement will help assure sustainable quality growth.

Understandably, purchasing agents in many traditional B2B industrial markets give preferential treatment to suppliers with demonstrated, capable quality management systems (e.g. ISO-registered) as a means to reduce their supply chain risk. Certainly, an effective QMS is also important to the B2C retailer in the consumer market to promote operational efficiency, but word of mouth recommendations (“earned” media) tend to drive end-user purchasing decisions. Indeed, customer Ratings & Reviews are gaining more credibility in both B2B and B2C markets. In a recent study it was revealed that
  • 62% of surveyed B2B professionals read user Ratings & Reviews for business products or service
  • 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as Word of Mouth recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising
  • The average social customer will tell 42 people about a good experience
  • The average social customer will tell 53 people about a negative experience.

In the growing world of social collaboration, recent studies have also shown that:
  • 50% of Facebook users expect a response to an inquiry in 1 day or less
  • 80% of Twitter users expect a response to an inquiry in 1 day or less
  • 58% of customers who have tweeted about a bad experience have never received a response from the offending company

Special software today allows businesses to crawl the internet searching for Twitter comments whenever their brand is mentioned – positive or negative. Software also allows organizations to capture social media comments when their product or brand is mentioned, whether posted to its brand website or its retail partner website (e.g.,,, etc.) The organization's Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) then attempt to contact that individual to learn more about the source of their dissatisfaction for purposes of delivering timely, satisfying resolution, turning a negative situation into a positive experience for that consumer. Consumers' comments are compiled, categorized, and prioritized for root cause analysis and corrective action planning. Analysis of consumer Ratings & Reviews and feedback from product sampling trials are captured for future product improvement opportunities.

Social media tools are gaining importance as yet another means to improve customer listening, build customer loyalty and identify opportunities for process and product improvement.