What is Quality?
Generally, the quality of a product or service is the degree to which it satisfies the customer’s expectations. It is judged or realized by comparing it with some standards. Just like we define the quality of any product or service by using and comparing with others.
Quality is a vague and complex concept, and as such, it is more difficult to define it in one sentence. Different scholars viewed it differently. The customers are the key perceivers of quality because their purchasing decision determines the organization’s success. Customers’ perception of excellence is generally based on the degree to which the products or services meet their needs. Therefore, it is a perception of excellence viewed by customers to satisfy their needs. It is a sense of appreciation that a product or service is better than others.
Consumers perceive quality by evaluating one or more dimensions consisting of performance, reliability, conformance, durability, serviceability, aesthetics, and perceived quality.
Some important definitions are:
Philip Crosby – Quality is conformance to requirements.
John Steward – Quality is a sense of appreciation that something is better than something else.
Robert A Broh – Quality is a degree of excellence at an acceptable price and the control of variability at an acceptable cost.
American Society For Quality Control – Quality is the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.
Thus, quality is taken as “conformance to requirements”, “sense of appreciation”, degree of excellence, and “features and characteristics”. It is found that different authors defined it in different ways. However, all of them focused on customers. The customers analyze the quality of products or services from their own potentiality and norms.
Quality and productivity have become major determinants of business succeeding or failing today. Management should focus on better products and services at more competitive prices. Thus, managers should think about how every organizational process can be carried out to provide products and services as per the needs of the customers.
8 Dimensions of Quality
There are different dimensions of measuring the quality of goods or services. These dimensions help to increase the satisfaction of customers. 8 dimensions suggested by David A. Garvin are:
This dimension focuses on the primary operating characteristics of products. Such characteristics may relate to size, model, color, design, structure, and operating outcomes. For example, Sony TV reaches in color, sound system, picture quality, etc.
It involves specific or extra characteristics of the product as compared to others. Such features may relate to quality, price, operating cost, or extra service, etc. For example, the Nano car of TATA Company is the cheapest among the cars, Hyatt Regency Hotel’s complimentary breakfast facility to customers, etc.
This dimension involves the consistent performance of products within a specified period. There is the minimum probability of defects or breakdown of products within a specified period. The rate of repair and maintenance of such products is rare. Suppliers provide a warranty of repair and maintenance of such products for a specified period such as the dealer of Honda Motorcycle provides six months free service facility.
Conformance involves the degree to which the design and characteristics of products and services meeting the specific standards of the customers. On the basis of the level of income and desire, different customers may have different degrees of standards. For example, middle-class customers of Nepal prefer LG, Samsung, and similar types of products for electronic products.
The length of the useful life of products or services is another one of the important dimensions of measuring quality. Some products provide service for a long period of time whereas some products become useless within a short period of time. For example, Japanese cars are more durable as compared to Indian and Chinese cars.
The courtesy, competence, and easy availability of repair and maintenance service are other important dimensions. In the service sector, courtesy and competent services to customers facilitate to earn reputation and prestige in the society. Similarly, in the manufacturing sector, the easy availability of repair and maintenance services helps to draw the attention of customers. For example, in Nepal, Maruti-Suzuki cars have easy availability of spare parts and maintenance facilities.
Aesthetics is a subjective dimension of quality. It involves the looks, taste, feels, sound, and smell of products or services. It is a matter of personal judgment and a reflection of individual preference. For example, the flavor texture of Baskin Robbins ice-cream.
#8 Perceived Quality
It is concerned with how the customers perceive the product or service. Quality is conveyed through market standing, brand name, and reputation of the product. Long-term standing in the market and service to the customers supports to earn brand reputation and prestige in the market. For example, among the cars, the Toyota brand has distinct perceived qualities.