Meeting the customer requirements (Oakland 2003) is a reasonable definition of quality. Meeting the Customer’s requirements is a tough challenge as the requirements of customer are like the water of a tide; it’s likely to change at any point of time. So identifying the expectations of the customer and performing service in accordance to it is a task that requires great skill. But at the end of the day if customer’s expectation is met and the customer is satisfied with the product, we could say that quality has been achieved. For example; A Customer wanting a house to be built for him had come to my uncle’s construction company. Based on his expectations and the trend that was in style during that time, our civil engineers prepared a plan of the house and work was to begin. But as the work progressed the customer seemed dissatisfied with the framework. Understanding this fact, the project was kept on hold for some time and a more important focus was put on the customer’s opinions and suggestions and a detailed survey was made to understand the customer requirements.
After many organized customer interviews and a through process of the customer information the plan and structure was changed in accordance to the customer requirement. The project was resumed and finished with minor delay. But once the project was over and the house being built the satisfaction on the customer’s face made us understand that we had attained the level of Quality that the original plan or layout could not have achieved. Human factor and Process are the two things that cannot be separated.
Therefore in accordance to that my belief would be that Quality brings about inspiration and feelings to those who have played a role in its creation. Quality is accomplished when the product you have delivered gives a proud feeling for yourself and when it brings in a smile on the customers face. Oakland states in his book that “If we are to define quality in the way that is useful in its management, then we must recognize the need to include in the assessment of quality the true requirements of the ‘customer’ – the needs and expectations” (Oakland, 2003). I agree to the above statement as it clearly says that assessing the customer’s need and expectations and working for it determines the quality of the project. So as conclusion I would say meeting the customer requirements is a hard task, but once it is met it could be said that the desired quality has been achieved.
Excellent communication between customers and suppliers is the key to total quality performance During my final year of Engineering, I had to do my main project. It was an intense assignment that would span over a few months. My project guide gave me a brief outline of what was expected from my project and what he wanted me to do. However, I felt that with the outline given, although I was capable of creating a good project, I was unsure what exactly what my guide was looking for. I understood that the best solution to ensure the increase of the overall quality of my work was to communicate efficiently with my guide. Over the next few weeks, I made it a point to get an appointment with him once a week and take him through my progress. I would ask him the right questions and understand what his expectations were. His feedback helped me get a better picture of his thought process and the steps I needed to take in order to take my project to a higher quality. In this scenario, I am the supplier (the one who provides the product) and my guide, the customer (the one who expects results). For ensuring total quality performance, excellent communication is vital.
Communication itself, can be broken down into two – strategic communication and operational communication. Strategic communication involves meeting each other constantly, enquiring about development plans, explaining your business model and defining clearly what is expected. These steps will successfully establish the framework for an excellent project which came true in my case. My weekly meetings ensured a good flow of information. Explaining my plans to the guide helped me get constructive ideas from him. It also helped me understand the priorities of my project better and define it clearly.
The second type of communication in this scenario is operational communication. This involves communicating about the progress of the project; passing information about its development and if there are any changes in priorities. During this stage, my customer (guide) was regularly informed about my progress. He would then suggest particulars that increased the overall quality of my work and made it a better product. Through such communication, my project was successfully completed on time in the way my guide preferred. Excellent communication had become my key to increased quality, which in turn taught me how vital it was for the success of any given project.
All employees must be committed to quality in order for an organisation to achieve sustained improvement (Oakland 2003) Quality work and commitment from every single employee plays an important role in the growth of the company. An Organisation being well managed or having a constant improvement is the result of each and every employee attaining the quality level. On the other hand, lack of commitment from an individual employee could actually disturb the proper functioning of an Organisation. An Employee when motivated properly will give their best for the company. And only when all the employees in a firm equally dedicate their best, a total quality can be achieved by the organisation. The permanent objective of all the employees should be the continual Improvement of the total performance of the Organisation. An Organisation should Inspire, Exhilarate and Recognize the Progression and Achievements of each and every employee and motivate them.
Every Employee should have a clear understanding of his roles and Obligation towards the Organisation and strive together as a team to achieve the common objectives. An aspired result will be achieved in an efficient manner only when activities and related resources are managed and worked upon together by every individual employee as a team.
Lack of interest or lack of involvement by a single employee can actually disturb the total quality of an Organisation. For example: The HDFC Insurance company that I worked in while I was in India was one of the leading Insurance providers in our country. Every Individual employee was given a target to meet by the end of the Month. Incentives and Bonus were given to the group and individual employers who meet their target.
Everyone worked hard and dedicated there full effort to meet the target and some of them even put extra effort and exceeded their target. But due to lack of interest or commitment from one or two individual employees from some group the overall target was not attained and overall bonus and incentives for the group and the branch managers were also not met. And we lost the best performance award that we had bagged for the last two consecutive years. It can be clearly seen from the above example that the Company could not achieve the desired quality because of the fact that a few employees lacked Individuality and proves the topic right that every individual has his own role to play for the sustained improvement of the company and to achieve the desired Quality.
Customer expectations.. are rarely well defined and may well evolve as the transaction progresses (AS 3906, quoted in Reid 2013d). Meeting the Customer Expectations is always a tough challenge as they tend to change as time progresses. Knowing your Customer and what they need is the basic step for a quality Customer service. Even though you have a very well organised Customer Service team if you are not able to cope with the changing customer needs that evolved during the project, it may lead to Customer dissatisfaction and thus ruin your reputation with the customer. So knowing the customer expectations and the fact that they are to change at any point of time and taking steps to meet them will determine the quality of your service. My Parents original plan was to visit Australia for a period of 30 days. And they contacted a travel agency to organize the trip. When it was known that only a connection flight was available from India to Australia my parents decided on to stay at Singapore for 5 days and then come to Australia and the travel agency had to do the necessary arrangements for the revised plan.
One week before the scheduled date of the trip my parents got a call from our relatives at New Zealand inviting them to spend a few days at their place. My parents decided to leave Australia a few days earlier than originally planned and visit our relatives at New Zealand on the way back to India. The travel agency was to do the last minute cancelling of tickets and make sure that New Zealand trip was also included. My parents (being the Customer here) had made a lot of changes than their expectations in the beginning and the Travel Agency (the supplier) had to be on constant touch with my parents to know these changes and make sure that their level of service is tailored to such a way that the it meets the needs of my parents.
From my point of view the travel agency would not have risen up to the level of quality my parents were expecting if they were not fast, proficient and had a systematic service. The supplier should be friendly and has a helpful service staff that would gather instant information about the varying expectations and provide an expeditious answer to an inquiry made. So to sum up it can be said that customer expectation vary from person to person and time to time and to provide service in accordance to that requires a skilled level of expertise.