Quality in Today’s Marketplace
November 19, 2021
Quality has always been important to buyers. In today’s marketplace still reeling from the after effects of the COVID pandemic, it is even more important. If you don't think quality matters, just ask customers. Regardless of the business sector (retail, service, manufacturing, etc.), quality is an important issue with customers especially considering that many buyers are still feeling the negative financial consequences experienced over the last 18 months. Buyers more than ever expect certain levels of quality and remember what they receive long after a sales transaction.
Levels of Quality
Depending on the product, service, or industry niche, different levels of quality can and are delivered by a business. For example, there is a different level of quality expected from a high-end, luxury automobile versus a low-priced, economy car. Likewise, better quality is expected from a high-end, name-brand clothing article than what would normally be found in a large discount retail store. Difference in quality of products and services offered can be found in almost any industry or business segment.
Businesses, therefore, should strive to be the "best in their class" when it comes to quality. In other words, luxury cars compete against other luxury cars rather than competing against lower-priced economy cars. Similarly, high-priced clothing articles compete against other high-priced clothing items rather than lower priced items offered by discount retailers. The same rationale applies to all products and services. The main competition is between products and services of the essentially the same class. Certainly, an argument can be made to a certain extent that luxury cars compete for sales with lower priced economy cars (some buyers might be interested in gasoline mileage, operating costs, warranties, convenience of the auto dealership, etc.), but generally in this example luxury cars compete against other luxury models for a sale.
Money Saved, Money Lost
When businesses decide to skimp on quality by saving a little money today, money gets lost tomorrow with the end result being customer dissatisfaction rather than customer satisfaction and customer retention. Obviously, non-returning customers equate to money lost in the future. At times, of course, a quality issue might arise that was not foreseen by the business and inferior products are sold or services delivered. An important outcome to this scenario is how these situations are handled that will make the difference between retaining or losing customers.
When quality issues first arise and buyers are not pleased, they must be dealt with immediately through a variety of alternatives. Products can be replaced, service reworked, discounts given, money refunded, or other options that will either alleviate the problem or rectify the situation to the satisfaction of the customer. When a business becomes aware of a quality issue and does nothing, this is tantamount to creating a business disaster. Customers will not only not return to the business; they will tell their story of dissatisfaction over and over to countless numbers of acquaintances. With online reviews and social media omnipresent today, dissatisfied customers can castigate a business far beyond their own circle of friends and acquaintances.
Quality is Lasting
If there is a quality issue, a business must figure out how to resolve it immediately. Long-term, sustainable businesses need customers who want to repeat their buying experience and must prove to customers that the quality they deliver is what is promised and expected.