When you ask 100 CEOs, 90% of them will tell you that quality is among their top pillars and one of the main reasons why they are in business today. However, when you walk towards the quality manager in the organization, you get a whole different story. Most don’t truly feel taken seriously as a department and have the feeling that they just need to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Others have the feeling they are just there to maintain compliance. Regardless of this feeling, top management believes quality is important, so as quality managers, we should be able to get a more central position in the organization. We simply need to position ourselves differently, and a lot of it has to do with communication.
Marketing Related to Quality
The marketing of a product or company is all about telling the ideal story of how the product or service can add value for the customer. Millions of dollars are poured into marketing in order to position the product or services right and reach the audience. Top management is aware of the importance of marketing in order to reach the market. However, it is the quality of the product or service that turns this marketing story into a reality. When the product drops on the doorstep of the customer, the quality of the product gives the actual experience, not the made-up one during marketing. It is in that particular moment that the rubber meets the road and that the quality makes all the difference. Still, lots of top managers don’t see the importance of quality management.
Position of Quality
Quality is actually the science of fulfilling the expectations that have been created by marketing. Why, then, are there millions of dollars flowing into marketing, and quality is left with crumbs?
We believe, as quality managers, that we are mainly to blame because of how we position ourselves. We focus more on compliance to standards than expressing the actual adding value to the organization. It is not that we don’t do this; it has mainly to do with how we communicate and how we position ourselves in this organization. We talk about the standard and how the organization complies with this. Regardless of our enthusiasm, most people don’t care; they have their own tasks within the organization. In order to really showcase the added value of quality, we need to show how we actually add value to the organization and communicate this. We do this by maintaining a certain level of consistency in the quality of products and services. Consistency is especially important because then the customer knows what (s)he gets when buying the product or service. Hence, quality is actually the extension of marketing because good quality enforces worth of mouth, which is the cheapest marketing on the planet.
In order to express the value of quality, we need to communicate in plain English. We shouldn’t talk too much about the norm because nobody outside the quality department truly cares. We need to make the translation on how these parts of the norm translate to their job. Don’t include any paragraph or reference to the norm in any document that is written for people outside the quality department. It only confuses people. Instead, we need to show how we add to the button line. For example, how many referrals there were via worth of mouth, or how much of the products were on time. These metrics directly correlate with the financials of the business. This way, we can acquire a more central part of the organization.