How you define and measure quality matters. Organizational leadership within a single entity may define quality differently. Does your organization have a clear definitional understanding of quality and a well-defined approach to measure and continuously improve the excellence of your products or services?
Adopting a “continuous improvement” mentality only excels when the voice and the perspective of the customer are included. Often, organizations lack any insights from the view of the customer or end-user on expected standards of quality. Establishing quality metrics seems so often elusive and difficult to grasp within private equity owned businesses. Businesses must determine if variances in customer expectations exist and make sense of their needs to properly establish and measure quality standards.
Professor David Garvin, Harvard Business School, identified that metric of quality can be monitored and analyzed through eight dimensions or characteristics:
- Performance: a product or service’s primary operating characteristics
- Features: additional factors that enhance the appeal of the product or service to the user
- Reliability: the likelihood that a product or service will not fail within a specific time-period.
- Conformance: the precision with which the product or service meets specified standards
- Durability: the length of a product’s life until it is no longer economical to operate it
- Serviceability: the speed with which support can be provided when a product breaks down or a service fails – as well as the competence and behavior of the team providing support
- Aesthetics: the subjective dimension indicating the kind of response a user has to a product such as looks, sounds, tastes, smells, etc. and clearly based on personal preference
- Perceived Quality: the quality attributed to a product or service based on indirect measures such as reputation or the length of time that a business has been operating
Garvin proposes that these eight factors of quality can serve as a framework for strategic analysis and competitive benchmarking. These same quality control factors allow product and service managers to easily listen to customers and end users to determine marketplace sentiment and perception for the services or products that the business provides.
When we measure the quality of a product or a service, we work with our clients to prioritize in importance each of these quality factors. Once properly weighted, we can calculate an overall score based on voice-of-the-customer data collected from the marketplace that pertains to each of the eight factors. This calculated score can then be monitored for trends and benchmarked against competitors to determine marketplace advantages and gaps for any product or service.
How do you measure the overall quality of your products and services to meet the needs of your customers?