Delivering Quality to Your Customers

The problem with this functional element of value is credibility.  No business claims to deliver poor quality goods or services.  So how can you market quality credibly?

What is It?

You claim a quality service where you deliver a product or service to the highest possible standard.  Leaving aside the question of how you provide evidence, there is another factor to consider.

Quality is multi-factorial.  Your Crunchy Bites may be the crunchiest but that is no evidence of quality.  What do they taste like?  Nutritional value?  Environmental impact?  Are they fresh?  How do you treat your workers?  You can add many more.

They may be the crunchiest on the market but you cannot claim quality on one criterion alone.

Value to the Customer

Consider possible factors.  Not all customers care about all of these.  Some customers rate some factors as important.  Perhaps they all want a crunchy snack but after that vary about what is important.

If your packaging does not meet environmental standards some people, who would otherwise buy your snack, will not.  If your packaging meets minimal standards, your competitors may do better.

It is easy to see how you can get lost in a maze of regulations over a wide range of issues.

Maybe you can get by with customers who care only about crunch but that way you lose many potential customers.  What to do?

How to Get There

Customers expect minimum standards and maybe that is all you have capacity for.  Perhaps it is best not to broadcast quality as one of your elements of value.

Instead, use evidence you provide a good service.  Use things like awards, qualifications, endorsements and testimonials as evidence you provide a quality product or service.  If you provide a niche service or product, you may find you need go no further.

To go further, you need to build capacity.  I had experience of this during the 1990s, when we applied for funding for community enterprises.  Funding bodies insisted we met quality standards by providing evidence of compliance. This made us think deeply about what we were doing in all aspects of our work.  It was not easy but mostly improved performance.

The key to quality is accountability to an external authority.  This gets you beyond minimum legal requirements.  There is a point in the growth of your business, where quality becomes more important.  Addressing it too early absorbs a lot of time, with little financial benefit.

There are several quality standards available. Consultants can help you find the best for your business.  These include packages such as Investors in People or ISO standards.

Your Offer

Don’t misunderstand me.  A business that demonstrates it meets quality standards has an advantage in the marketplace.

However, you must juggle advantages with capacity.  In the early stages of business development, when you have not finally settled on your exact business, you develop new products and services and learn to market and sell them, quality may be premature.

Quality requires significant investment of time and finance.  Do it only once secure foundations are in place and you want to grow your business.

Some customers care about some aspects of quality.  Be ready for their questions but don’t worry too much about it.

This is the twenty-eighth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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