When you think of quality control, you probably think of manufacturing businesses inspecting products for flaws. In reality, quality control processes can be used in all types of businesses, whether they are product-based, service-based, B2B or B2C.
Quality control is a key component of a well-run business. A quality control/quality assurance program helps to ensure your small business is delivering a consistent product, service and customer experience. Developing quality assurance processes allows your business to operate without you, making it easier to expand into new locations, delegate duties and even sell your business when the time comes. Gas Leak Detector
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Business growth requires careful attention to both dollars and people. Quality control helps ensure you’re monitoring both. If your products or services are of poor quality, you'll spend a lot of time and resources redoing them resulting in reducing your profit margins. If customers aren't happy with the quality of your products and services, they'll stop doing business with you. As word spreads, you will gain a reputation for poor quality, making it harder to attract and keep customers and employees.
When your landscaper finishes the lawn does a representative of the company stop to see if the work exceeds your customer’s expectations? When you dine at your favorite restaurant does the hostess or owner stop at your table to assure all is to your liking or more? When you get your car serviced do you get an email survey from the dealer or service provider asking about the level of quality of the service? These are examples of quality control applied by small businesses here in our own community. If you are not doing these activities, consider these steps when implementing a QA/QC program.
Set your quality standards high. In some industries, you may have to meet quality standards set by an outside body, such as an industry association, the local health and/or safety inspector, or a government regulatory agency. In others, there aren't any official quality standards, so you will need to set your own.
Each functional area of your business will have different quality control standards. However, they must all be objectively measurable. For example, if you're developing quality control standards for your customer service team, “sounding friendly on the phone" is not a measurable standard. Measurable standards might include: Answering all customer calls by the second ring, responding to all customer service emails within four hours, resolving customer service problems in five minutes or less
Decide what is really important. Of course, you want to ensure quality in all aspects of your operation. However, begin by focusing on the most important measures — those that have the biggest effect on your profits and your customers’ experience. This will enable you to get results quickly and also keeps you and your team from becoming overwhelmed.
For instance, if you own a restaurant, keeping the restrooms clean is definitely something to monitor in your quality control program — but not the most important thing. Getting orders out to customers quickly and accurately is a more important standard because it has a more direct effect on the quality of experience and customer satisfaction.
Create internal processes to deliver quality. W. Edwards Deming, the founder of modern quality control believed that well-designed processes lead to high-quality products and services. If you create well-thought-out processes and measure the results your offerings will get continuously better. A process might be for a landscaper that proposals are delivered within 48 hours of site visitation and invoices are sent within 24 hours of the work’s completion. These processes can be measured.
Feedback. This is another quality control process that is valuable to businesses. Using customer surveys, online ratings and reviews and event net promoter scores (NPS) gives business owners a more complete picture of how well they are delivering their products and/or services. Feedback also gives an indication of what needs to be modified or changed to meet or exceed customer expectations more fully.
Always set quality control standards for all the functions of your business, especially the customer-facing ones. Then measure them to assure you are meeting or exceeding the objectives. If not change and then measure the change. It is a continual management process to stay ahead of the competitive wave.
Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, Certified Mentor, SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands. www.score.org/capecod, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-775-4884.
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