Whatever Happened to Quality Management?

A strange new convention has emerged during the last few years and the DeliveryDemon doesn’t think much of it.

It can be seen in many customer-facing organisation and it goes something like this:

  • Something goes wrong and a customer complains
  • The organisation investigates the complaint and gets back to the customer with an explanation of why it will never happen again. The customer gets a refund and possibly a gift ‘as a thank you for bringing the matter to the organisation’s attention’.
  • The same thing happens again and again with different customers. When the complaint level reaches a critical mass, the organisation does one of two things. The better organisations do some root cause analysis and make changes to get rid of the problem. Other organisations – and the number of these is increasing – stop responding to complaints, in particular those from customers who have been affected several times.

Two things are happening here.

  • The organisation is not bothering to carry out pre-emptive quality management processes
  • The organisation is assuming that it’s down to the customers to carry out quality checks.

It might be the bread from the supermarket not being properly cooked, or the bag of parsley containing fragments held together with numerous rubber bands. It might be the electricity supply which keeps cutting out because movement of nearby tree branches causes equipment to cut out. It might be diminishing pressure in the water supply caused by a type of pressure valve known to malfunction regularly. It might be the emailed or website link which doesn’t work. It might be the peak hour commuter train delays regularly caused by running freight on the same line. It might be the hospital which sends a letter cancelling a Choose and Book appointment and replacing it with an appointment for an unspecified procedure. Most people have a fund of similar examples.

There is something seriously wrong with this widespread custom of organisations delivering poor quality for as long as they can get away with it.

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