Quality control is one of the most important—if not the most important—aspects of running a business. It’s part of your brand. It’s what brings customers back again and what encourages them to share their love for your work with all their friends and followers. It’s what allows your business to flourish or what drowns your work. Despite this, the concept of quality is a bit elusive. The following aims to crack open the concept of quality—in particular, the process of controlling quality—and examine how professionals manage it.
What Is Quality?
Quality is a particularly hard word to define. It’s sort of like love, in that it can mean different things to different people. But typically, at least a portion of these varied meanings are tied to the idea of excellence. A high-quality product or service is more excellent than a low-quality one. When it comes to managing a business, quality is basically the heart of your work. You can think of it as your standards. How well must a product or service be for you to feel comfortable selling it? How well does a product or service have to be before you’re proud that you’re the one who gets to sell it?
How Does A Business Go Without Quality?
You might think that quality is a quintessential aspect of business, that people who develop a quality product or figure out how to offer quality service are the ones running companies, but this isn’t always the case. Even if a business started off with ideas pertaining to quality, the pressures that come with entrepreneurship can easily make a person feel like sacrificing quality is necessary. Changes in the market can make quality more expensive financially, emotionally or time-wise. Supply chain changes and unenthusiastic staff can also contribute to poor quality. Sometimes a company owner can have really high standards, but a member of their team does a sloppy job without them knowing.
Foremost, you need to understand that quality is the whole experience a buyer has with your product or service; it includes them hearing about and seeking out your product. It includes them finding you online or in-person, the look of your website, how they felt while interacting with your staff, and what delivery was like in addition to the physical product or service. Yes, this means that if the UPS driver is in a mood and plops the package they ordered, and you carefully wrapped onto a puddle-covered driveway and leaves, your quality suffers. This means you need to be aware of all aspects of your pipeline and what you can do to address problems the moment they arise so that they don’t impact your overall quality.
One essential aspect of quality control is developing standardized checks. This means writing out a standard checklist that needs to be gone through for each and every product. It might even include space for documentation, like any measurements taken or photographs of the process or completed item, to prove that the check was done properly. Of course, every business is going to have a different list depending on what they’re creating. It’s also vital that you include any legal standards or industry requirements you need to meet within your standardized checks.
Yes, every product or service should be checked according to the standard procedure you’ve crafted specifically for your work. But you also need a few kinds of randomized checks. This includes surprise checks wherein you, or someone who is on the lookout for quality control shows up at the office, facility, or plant without any warning. This can help you gather a sense of what happens when you’re not around keeping watch on everything. You also need to do randomized deep dives into your product or service, perhaps even going so far as to take apart a product entirely to ensure that each aspect of it is high-quality.
Many businesses are waking up to the notion that consumers have gotten more suspicious. People making purchasing decisions want third-party approval of products in all possible forms: unpaid customer testimonials on social media, lots of good reviews and third-party certification. Depending on the field or industry you’re working within, there are probably a ton of different certification options or third-party testing options available to you. Even something as simple as having a third-party test your product and agree with you on all the ingredients can make a difference in consumers’ understanding of your work’s quality. Take the time to learn more about what sorts of tests you can take and which certifications you can apply for. You may also want to look into getting certifications for yourself, your members of staff or your facility, depending on what you’re crafting or offering.
Study Competition Flaws
Are there things people constantly complain about in regard to your competitors? Take the time to read the negative reviews and see what people are bothered by. Find a way to meet these unmet needs with your product or service.
Quality As Branding
Quality, when done right, becomes part of your brand. It becomes part of what you’re known for. You might think that the checks mentioned above are things to be kept private, but often being transparent about the lengths you go to to ensure product quality can be a wonderful aspect of marketing. People like to buy products that are crafted with care and attention to detail.
Customer Service Is Integral
If people can’t get in touch with you when something goes wrong or disappoints them, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to learn from the people who use your work. Make yourself highly accessible to people who have grievances. Listen to them genuinely. Improve your product or service using their input, and be sure to solve any problems they’re having that are within your control.
The above information should make it clear that quality is non-negotiable when you’re running a business. It requires vigilance and effort, and sometimes you need to sacrifice speed or quantity for it, but the results are well worth these efforts. The care you put into your work can be felt by those who purchase it.