Total Quality Management: Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed?

By Johnston, Catharine G.; Daniel, Mark J. | CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine, April 1992 | Go to article overview

Total Quality Management: Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed?

Johnston, Catharine G., Daniel, Mark J., CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

Research with some of the most successful companies worldwide shows that competitive success belongs only to organizations with a management system that focuses all their resources on delighting customers. Total Quality Management (TQM) is that management strategy. Widely adopted by many organizations in Japan since the 1950s, TQM is proving a necessity for surviving more intense global competition.

Quality is hardly a new concept. But TQM goes beyond quality initiatives that have been isolated (practised only in parts of the organization) or piecemeal (restricted to inspection or quality control methods). The strategy requires a company to align its structures and processes-- product or service design, marketing and sales, customer relations, after-sales service toward customer satisfaction. Every contributor throughout the process leading up to the final customer-- suppliers, dealers, distributors--also needs to focus on that goal.

In 1990, the Conference Board of Canada and Industry, Science and Technology Canada sponsored a seven-month-long study of how some of the world's most successful companies are implementing total quality. The participants included senior Canadian executives from small entrepreneurial companies, including Montreal's IAF Biochem International Inc. and Nexus Engineering Corp. of Burnaby, B.C.--to multinationals-- Northern Telecom Canada Ltd. of Mississauga, Ont., and Toronto's Xerox Canada Inc. The group visited 14 companies in the United States, Germany, England, and Japan that had been selected for outstanding achievements in Total Quality Management. Their goal: to bring back lessons that would help other Canadian organizations meet the competitive challenge. (For examples of specific benefits derived by companies from TQM initiatives, see the exhibit on the page 18.)

One thing became immediately clear: No one answer or set of instructions exists for implementing this management system makeover. Rather, TQM is a corporate state of mind that succeeds only when the organization is willing to change, to discard outdated management and work methods if necessary, and to make decisions based on the primary goal of satisfying customers' needs. At the same time, organizations agree several basic management principles must co-exist: maximizing employee potential, improving continuously, integrating effort, and managing by fact.

Setting the goal

By providing goods or services, organizations exist to address human concerns. Their continued existence--and success-- depends upon how well they meet customer expectations. Quality must be defined not by the supplier, but by the customer. This is a deceptively simple concept. Many companies chase targets and measures determined internally, only to have to do an about-face after consulting their customers.

Even "satisfying customers' requirements" may not be good enough to keep them coming back. "Customer delight," or going beyond the stated requirements in order to build and maintain client loyalty, has become a new target for many leaders.

So how to pinpoint what customers want? Organizations have developed sophisticated systems, ranging from extensive written and telephone surveys to innovative personal contacts to more enterprising ideas. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., for example, built replicas of a typical Japanese home in one of its plants. Homemakers hired on a one-year contract test the company's products and those of its competitors to see them through customers' eyes. Engineers, ergonomists and other company experts observe how appliances are used and study the homemakers' assessments.

After identifying needs, organizations must place their resources where they will deliver the most customer satisfaction. Federal Express Corp., based in Memphis, Tennessee, took a step-by-step approach, investing scarce resources in turn into projects that would have the greatest customer impact. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Total Quality Management: Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed?


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.