Quality Management. For some people those two words are as boring as it gets. For others, it is their career. However if you own or are involved in the running of a small to medium sized business, it needs to be on your agenda.
Despite the absolute truth in the statement that people buy from people, if your product or service is inferior, poorly designed, executed or presented, it doesn't matter how many buckets of charisma your Sales Manager has in their back pocket - quality is king (or Queen for the chess players out there). What's more, if your customers love your people AND your product or service, you're going to need to manage your explosive growth - and what a lovely headache to have.
But for many, quality management can seem like the dark arts - an ideal with basic principals but too timely or costly to implement. This is simply not accurate. By considering a few changes to how your business operates, you will notice big differences in output, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. And for those businesses that have been considering a formalized quality management system such as ISO 9001:2015, having such items in place will move you towards a compliant system and reduce your costs in analyzing your gaps and implementing a full scale system for certification.
So without further distraction, here are 5 free quality management tweaks that you can make for your business to see solid improvements:
1 Lead from the front
This might sound obvious, but you will determine your customers' overall satisfaction and when people join your business, they will follow your lead. So if they hear about exactly how your business goes about striving to be the best, your customers will understand your commitment and your people will help you achieve your objectives. All quality management systems must have buy in from the company Leaders.
2 Make your decisions based on fact
Each day brings it's own challenges. A valued customer received their product 20 minutes late. Another didn't like the new sales rep. Your accounting system is down again. With such challenges it is easy to make important decisions based on emotion - frustration, anger, disappointment, happiness, good will - and other factors other than cold, pure hard facts. In quality management, facts are your friend. They make you leaner, stronger, more profitable, more appealing. Look at your data, analyse it and use that as a basis for your business decisions. Park the noise surrounding it and you will see tangible improvements within your business.
3 Involve your people
They are your lifeblood. You have to entrust them with your business each and every day. Some have bought in to your brand more than others but a surefire way of improving engagement among your staff is by involving them in the management of the business. Now that can be a scary thought for some of you, but it doesn't have to be. By involving them in initiatives such as finding improvements to the way you do things, or feeding back and recording information from customer conversations, you are involving them in the continual improvement of how you do things and this makes them feel important. You don't have to implement every idea, but it costs nothing to have the discussion and thank them for bringing it to the table.
4 Understand your processes
Process based approach. You might hear about this a lot and so you should. It will pin your business efficiency together. Go to the whiteboard, grab a marker - not a permanent marker - and go through the steps that you take to give the customer what they have asked for. This is a basic explanation but by identifying the processes in your business, it becomes much easier to measure how you are performing and how to keep improving.
5 Start with the big ticket items
The Pareto rule has become famous for stating that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. This is also the case with your approach to quality management. In reality, if you do not have an established system such as ISO 9001:2015, there can be many areas of improvement in need of attention. Use your time and resources to focus on the significant problems that have been identified. The smaller items are a bonus and will follow, but by keeping your focus on your objectives, which should include satisfied customers, you and your team will stay on track.
So there they are. Five ideas to move your quality management forward and continue to grow your business. They don't cost anything, they aren't hard to do and they will make a difference.
If you are interested in a no obligation discussion regarding implementation of an ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System for your business, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 155 605 and we would be pleased to understand your needs further.