Monday, May 20, 2013

The Global State of Quality - A Perspective

ASQ, in partnership with APQC, released the first findings of the ASQ Global State of Quality research initiative at ASQ’s 2013 World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Indianapolis, Indiana. Releasing its Discoveries 2013 report, ASQ asks "What finding is the most useful to your work?  What finding is the most surprising? What question would you most like to have answered?"

I first became exposed to the Discoveries 2013 report during the Enterprise member Executive Roundtable event at the WCQI. Two key observations that I took away from the report are the revelation that "service organizations are 1.6 times more likely than manufacturing organizations to view quality as a strategic asset and competitive differentiator" (page 14); and, the relatively small number of customer perceptions of quality used as compared to the number of internal measures of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness (page 18).

Why might more service organizations view quality as a strategic asset than their manufacturing counterparts? One main reason, I believe, is because service is THE product of service organizations; whereas service is an added feature of manufacturing. Direct contact with the customer is the moment of truth for service organizations; a distinct competitive advantage is won by the organization that can deliver consistently superior customer experience. In today's global economy, local interaction can be a cost equalizer and a key differentiator.

Common measures of quality frequently cited by participating organizations include:
  • First Pass Yield
  • Defects Per Million
  • % On Time
  • Safety
  • Internal Failures
  • % Compliance
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Customer Satisfaction.
While I am not surprised that most organizations measure performance based on their internal goals and requirements, it appears that very few organizations measure customer perceptions of quality beyond an overall satisfaction number. First, it has been well researched and documented that Satisfaction does not necessarily translate into Loyalty...  Second, ASQ's 2011 Future of Quality Study (Emergence) introduces 21st century quality as Total Customer Experience (TCE). TCE is quality experienced by the customer at every touchpoint in every transaction with the supplying organization. I would be interested in learning more about how organizations are capturing and translating customer experience ratings throughout the value chain and product lifecycle: advertising, merchandizing, point of sale, invoicing, customer service, technical service, installation, service, repair and disposal, as well as any online web experience. What innovations have organizations implemented to increase employee and customer engagement?

I look forward to reading the subsequent analysis and insights reports due later in 2013.

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