Article

Quality vs. Perception

Quality vs. Perception

I've just been discussing something very fundamental with a client. The client, a manager for a large manufacturer was concerned about a customer who did not appreciate the client's attention to quality and was not prepared to pay a "fair" price for the client's products.

It is something that surprised me coming from a person who is intelligent, educated, experienced and knowledgeable. After listening to my client explain the situation and the comments from the customer, I realised that my client and his customer were using the term "quality" to describe two very different things. For my client, "quality" is the absence of defects in the products supplied. However, the customer expects defect-free products as a "given". In the customer's view, "quality" is something else entirely - it is the value the products bring to the customer.

It's understandable, really. In manufacturing and production, companies run quality assurance programmes and frame their worldview accordingly: level of defects, production efficiency, DIFOT. A customer's world-view is fundamentally different: DIFOT, price, utility, VALUE.

For manufacturers and suppliers, the secret to success is looking at the world through the customer's eyes and structuring the product offering accordingly to provide VALUE as defined by the customer. Then and only then should we talk (but not first consider) price!

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