You guys know how much I love my iPhone. For a while, I’ve considered getting the new iPhone 4. But I also want to be fiscally responsible. As such, the other evening I announced to Mr. Bartender that I might wait on this purchase. Of course, as soon as I make this announcement, AT&T sends me their latest magazine and the focus is (what else) the newest iPhone.
While I’m back on the fence about getting the latest version, one thing that stood out in the magazine was an AT&T app called Mark the Spot. It’s an app that allows you to tap a button when you encounter a service issue. The app sends a signal to AT&T and they’re able to see where difficulties are.
Fascinating. And, on the surface it sounds like a great idea. But, it seems to me that AT&T is delegating responsibility for quality control to the customer. It’s cheaper to have your users identify areas of service concern rather than pay your own people to track them down.
It reminds me of quality initiatives like TQM and now Six Sigma. It used to be that quality control was a function within a company. The goal was to ensure the excellence of a product or service before it reached the customer.
Okay, sure, tough economic times call for cut backs. And maybe companies still have quality control departments (albeit smaller ones). But really:
Consumers are facing the same tough economy and they’re scrutinizing every penny they spend. Is it really a good idea to cut back on quality control at a time when your customer might be questioning whether or not they get real value from you?
No news is good news is not a quality control initiative. I know sometimes it might appear easier to just react to a customer complaint with the standard “I’m sorry” and hope for the best. But providing a quality product before it goes out your door should be on your company radar. Has your business put a quality control process in place or considered the need for one?
Maybe the software industry is to blame after it became common practice to turn some of their customers into “beta testers”. It certainly fits with this AT&T model. Now, we’ve all become unwitting “beta testers” for every company we buy from. After all, it increases corporate profit margins and customers don’t seem to complain too much about the added “responsibility”.
Now you might be thinking, hey bartender – I’m not in production or R&D so the responsibility for our end product doesn’t really fall on me. Fair enough – but what about the product or service you provide on a department level? Just because we aren’t seeing massive turnover or hiring in droves – yet – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t focus on providing quality to internal stakeholders (i.e. employees).
What do you guys think? What controls do you have in place to gauge the quality of work coming out of your department?
Image courtesy of KB350