Quality can feel immeasurable sometimes. By immeasurable, we don’t mean all the KPIs we defined within our management system. We have great KPIs to measure company performance, which include things like:
- Customer satisfaction
- Production fail rates
- Costs of Quality
We say Quality is immeasurable more in the sense of soft output—things like how Quality culture is and how our employees see their work in relation to Quality.
Quality Controls in production environments are crystal clear, it either falls within range or doesn’t. If the product doesn’t fall within acceptable levels, it will be rejected. However, Quality Control in more interpersonal activities is much harder to measure. How do you rate the support of a company, for example? Not picking up the phone is a clear bad sign, but the tone of voice of the employee can also have a big impact. Especially the service departments of companies face these interpersonal complexities. Companies and business gurus came up with all kinds of measuring tools to get a good feeling about this, but the fallacy is still embedded in it. What if the person on the other end of the phone is just having a bad day? We cannot easily compensate for this other than in a statistical way. Also, most of these methodologies are making use of the average from lots of data, which is great, but doesn’t say anything on individual cases. Just measure the things that are important and acknowledge that there is bias in the data. And always check for the biggest impact, not only the average of all the data.
To make it even more complex, there are certain outsourced processes that also have a significant impact on the quality perception of the customer. A great example is the delivery guy/girl that delivers the packages for your company. He or she just drops the package over the fence without much care or wasn’t able to deliver it. The customer would get annoyed at the company while you weren’t able to complete control the process. Yes, again, there are ways to measure suppliers, but there is no way for the company to control this process because there are no internal resources for this. In order to have a good feeling of control, make sure critical suppliers are regularly audited and allow customers to easily file a complaint on your website. Use this data to manage and control the outsourced processes. This gives at least some form of control.
Get comfortable with having these immeasurable and hard to define KPIs within the company. There will always be certain outputs that are hard to measure; just make sure there is clear guidance within top management, as well as within the workforce, on how to perceive them. Getting the Quality mindset adopted throughout the company will ensure a much better feeling on the Quality within the company. Create measurable KPIs where possible to back things up with data.