Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

When Good Enough Is Not Enough

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

When Good Enough Is Not Enough

Article excerpt

As the sponsor of the 1996 "Canada Quality Month," VIA Rail has led a cross-country campaign based on one simple message: Quality comes from within. What does that message mean and why did we choose it for Quality Month activities? We believe that extraordinary quality - quality that goes beyond standardized measures and process management - can not be achieved by imposing a set of rules and procedures, or measuring adherence to standards. It has to come from the hearts and minds of people on the job. It is this personal approach to quality which I believe will make all the difference.

Customers who are merely "satisfied" simply won't cut it today. We need customers that are delighted. It's time for businesses to take quality management to a new level.

Now, we must earn our customer's loyalty every day - and every time we do, the bar gets raised to a new level, and to win, we have to go beyond standards and achieve the extraordinary. To achieve the extraordinary, we need to look to the vast, often untapped, potential of people to understand and respond to the customer, minute-by-minute, day in, and day out. We must understand that the pursuit of excellence is one of the most compelling human motivations there is. Given a chance, the freedom, the right information, and the right tools, people will show you quality performance you never even dreamed of.

At VIA Rail Canada, our vision is to be the best passenger transportation company in this country, bar none. How can we achieve this goal? By looking within, and making it everyone's job. We're in the service business, although sometimes I think we're in the manufacturing business too. Our people are manufacturing memories. Quality for us is all about making those memories consistently positive. There is a difference though - people are our means of production. And this is the crux of our quality challenge. You can't tune a person on a regular maintenance schedule. You can't measure conformance to standards on the positive, memorable customer experiences they create. Uniqueness and spontaneity are necessary to make each interaction positive. However, we must also maintain consistency. How do we do that?

First we make sure, through face-to-face contact, that everyone understands that we have a single purpose - to provide customers with a high-quality, low-cost passenger service.

We have translated this mission into a short, specific strategic plan, and we have given a copy to every single person. …

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