Magazine article Industrial Management

TQM: It's Customer Satisfaction or You Lose

Magazine article Industrial Management

TQM: It's Customer Satisfaction or You Lose

Article excerpt

There is no getting away from the facts. Customers want shorter leadtimes, on-time performance, unsurpassable quality and a good price to round out the value equation. The mission is clearly one of total customer focus and becoming the best. Ask any CEO about the importance of customer satisfaction and the response will clearly rank it the most important of competitive weapons. Yet, past experience confirms that when a choice existed, cost reduction usually won out. Now, business conditions dictate that no choice exists. It is customer satisfaction or you lose.

TQM SUCCESS AUDIT

Baselining where your organization is with total quality management (TQM) can be achieved by answering the questions in Figure 1. (Figure 1 omitted) The objective is to stimulate thought at by gauging or regauging where you think your organization is with TQM. One caution is that many top management teams mistakenly believe their companies are producing higher quality products and better satisfying customers than their competitors. A few years ago the automotive industry was a good example of the fact that what might hHVe been true at one time was no longer valid. When answering, it is very important that you carefully and realistically consider each question and then candidly select the description and point value that best represents your situation. Use extra care not to fall into the trap of an overly optimistic response. Realism and candor are essential. This self-critique can be a very difficult task.

Your score from the 10 TQM success audit questions can generally categorize your company's TQM focus and status by using Figure 2 for evaluation.

FIGURE 2

TQM SUCCESS SCORE--EVALUATION AND RECOMMENDATION

98-100--You are in an elite class of highly focused and top performing TQM companies. Don't take your sight off the target of winning. Innovation and continuous improvement are essential to your ongoing success.

80-97--You are in the high performance group of companies and may actually be outperforming most, if not all, of your competitors now. Keep reengineering your business processes to make sure you are, in fact, out in front of your competition.

60-79--Some issues have likely been worked on, but you need to reinvigorate your efforts and reach new levels of performance. Delay will cost money and, most importantly, the competition has not stopped searching for how to win.

Less than 60--You need to intensify or initiate a high priority TQM effort. Delay most certainly has cost you money, and no action ;or limited action will ultimately lead to major problems.

Most companies score much less than they should on the TQM success audit. If this is the case with your company, then conduct an intensive, opportunities assessment that will serve as the foundation for initiating immediate improvement actions to achieve near-term breakthrough results. The TQM mission is possible and very necessary. The questions in Figure 3, with the appropriate managers participating, will help to initiate the beginning of breakthrough performance improvements and new levels of customer satisfaction.

FIGURE 3

* What specific customer satisfaction improvement action items need to be initiated immediately?

* What specific, measurable improvement will be achieved over the next 12 months?

* In what three areas have we achieved results by practicing zero-based thinking? …

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