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Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace
THE DANGER OF THE FOCUS ON QUALITY

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

4 out of 10 employees don't think that much of the quality of their organization's
products and services, but many of them don't know what they're talking about.

Part 1 - THE GOOD NEWS

  1. Internally, the Quality Movement Has Paid Big Dividends.

    The continuous quality improvement movement has properly focused the attention of many employers and employees on the quality of the products and services their organization provides to its customers. The result has been an increase in both employee and management commitment to quality.

  2. Product and Service Quality Have Improved.

    Many organizations have transformed themselves to better serve their customers. Those organizations committed to quality have prospered.

Part 2 - THE BAD NEWS:

  1. Employee Perceptions About Customer Satisfaction Are Inaccurate.

    Senior managers are often perplexed when they learn that 40 to 50 percent or more of their employees rate the quality of their products and services as poor. In these organizations management has data that convincingly demonstrates a high level of repeat business, low customer turnover, and high levels of customer satisfaction.

  2. Employees Can Easily Lose Site of Reality

    Quality has become the sacred organizational cow. However, many employees have actually become too critical of their organizations. In the frenzy to improve quality and achieve perfection, employees have become so focused on identifying and solving problems that they have lost sight of the fact that their customers are, for the most part, satisfied.

    Perhaps this is because they have little actual personal contact with customers and thus don't know how they really feel. Since they spend the majority of their time solving problems and putting out fires, they distort the reality that the overwhelming majority of their customers are satisfied and will continue to do business with the firm.

  3. The Organization Suffers When Perceptions of Quality Are Low.

    When employees feel the quality of the products and services provided to customers is low, their commitment to the organization weakens, internal conflicts proliferate, and trust in management declines. Also, organizational pride, that thin glue that holds many organizations together, begins to lose its grip.

  4. The Self-fulfilling Prophecy Can Decrease Quality.

    If employees believe that management, their coworkers, or people in other departments are not committed to quality, they may lose their own personal commitment to quality as well. This could result in a downward spiral of declining quality, poor customer service, and lost business.

Part 3 - WHAT CAN BE DONE?

  1. Provide Employees With Customer Satisfaction Data.

    Our surveys show that 6 out of 10 employees do not feel they receive the customer satisfaction information they need to perform their jobs well. Customer satisfaction surveys should be conducted on a regular basis and the results shared with employees. Also share data about compliments received and new orders placed as well as about returns, errors, and complaints.

  2. Identify What is Important to Customers.

    Employees often focus their energies on improving what is most important to them rather than on what is most important to their customers. Properly developed surveys can simply ask customers what is most important to them. Sharing these results with employees can help to correctly focus their energies and perhaps assuage their concerns.

  3. Track Trends in Customer Satisfaction.

    It is important for employers and employees to know if customer satisfaction is improving, remaining constant, or declining. This information will help them to better understand whether the organization's commitment to quality is working.

  4. Provide Competitive Intelligence.

    It can be enlightening to employees to learn how customers feel about the firm's products and services versus those provided by competing firms. This information can also be gathered through customer satisfaction surveys and by interviewing former customers of competing organizations.

  5. Provide an Appropriately Balanced Picture.

    Care should be taken not to sugar coat or distort the data about customer satisfaction. Armed with accurate and complete data, employees will be able to develop the appropriate perspective.

I am very much interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and suggestions to .

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