In my previous blogpost I asked the question: “What do you think makes a quality product?”
I didn’t receive quite as much feedback as I would have liked, but the quality of the responses I did get was great.
In general terms, the message from that feedback was clear – quality depends very much on your point of view. A customer, for example, will look very differently at the quality of a product than the manufacturer will. A customer will assume a certain base level of quality in the product he is looking at and will probably not investigate too deeply whether or not that inferred level is actually there. However, any signal that the expected level might not be there will quickly place doubts in the customer’s mind, significantly reducing the likelihood of a purchase. Signals might come from reviews of the product, forums, friends, etc. and are largely uncontrollable by the manufacturer.
Consider what happened to Toyota in early 2010. Due to problems with the gas pedal, they had to recall millions of cars for inspection and repair. In the months after, sales dropped significantly – the negative press clearly taking its toll on the company’s performance. The failure came as a real shock to people. After all, would you think to check the gas pedal to see if it gets stuck when you’re buying a new car? Every one of their customers assumed Toyota had taken care to produce a flawless piece of engineering.
From a manufacturers point of view it is most important to deliver products that at least meet that assumed base level of quality. If that level cannot be reached, you better stay out of business altogether – all the investments you put in will certainly amount to nothing. And the level people expect is only going to continue to go up. It is like the high jump at the Olympics. You start with the bar down low, and for as long as you clear the bar, it will continue to go up. The spectators will cheer for you enthusiastically for as long as you continue to jump over it without knocking it off. But the moment you fail, you’re out of the game.
For us at Exact it is therefore very important to know where our bar currently sits, as well as where it is set to rise in the future. That’s why we work hard on keeping close relationships with our customers and the market.
From the quality factors we’ve now defined for Exact Online, a number of them are only related to meeting the base level. Others are a combination of meeting the base level and exceeding it. In my next postings I’ll go into more detail about what these factors involve, highlighting the extra steps necessary for us to continue offering the highest quality products possible.
In the meantime, if you would like to add or contribute in anyway, I’d be delighted to hear from you.