The definition of quality can be ambiguous and may differ tremendously between different people. While one person may be satisfied with a mediocre product that performs a function properly “most” of the time another may be completely dissatisfied unless the product delivers proper performance “all of the time.” Many people have innate connotations related to the expectation of true quality that may stem all the way from childhood experiences. However or whichever way these expectations are created, the truth to the matter is that more and more people expect a functional, superior product when they decide upon purchasing a good.
Quality is something that is always evolving and changing with the times. For instance, long ago people were satisfied with the quality of a black and white antenna television. The picture was often fuzzy due to poor antenna signal, the images were delivered in varying degrees of blacks, grays, and whites and the sound was tinny and less than to be desired, yet we were satisfied and somewhat content with these fallbacks due to where technology was at the moment. However, in this day and age we expect stellar performance from any television on the market. As a society, we want a crystal clear picture where you can basically see the pores on the skin of the people being watched, we want multiple fast forwarding and rewinding options of live broadcasts, and we demand the sound status as if we are actually in the room or place with what we are viewing. Our expectations of quality have changed and will continue to change as time progresses. As the latest and greatest innovations hit the market, we sit on the end of our chairs with excitement to catch a glimpse of what is coming next.
When asking a variety of people to define quality, the following responses have been noted:
“Quality is innovation paired with function and creativity.”
“When I think of quality I think of something that does what it is supposed to do and is reliable and well-supported.”
“Giving the best value for the money.”
“Quality means exceeding the customers’ expectations to the point of delighting them.”
“Offering the best product or service when compared to other’s offering similar products or services in the marketplace.”
As you can see, many people attribute quality with product or service excellence. If it is a product in question, it must be functional and meet the needs that it promises to meet and maybe even offer other benefits as well to delight the customer further. Within the service industry, quality tends to be more about customer satisfaction and importance. If a service company does not deliver the service that it promises, the customers will be unsatisfied and search elsewhere for that particular service if it is needed again in the future.
In essence, quality although subjective in meaning to many, is a major component of customer satisfaction and should be the center driving force for product companies and service providers when looking to attain and sustain a satisfied customer base.