By Jim Estill
I am coaching a newer company on how to produce high quality products. I figured it was easier to write this blog entry where it might have use to other people than just send it in an email to them.
One lesson I learned years ago by going through ISO9000 certification is closed loop. Every failure needs to be analyzed and the root cause solved. Simply fixing the problem for one customer is not enough.
There at 4 main sources of feedback that can be used for the closed loop.
1 – Customer service calls and emails. If a customer has to call, we have failed. What about our product is not intuitive. I dislike manuals (people never read them anyways) but does the manual need to be improved? Or the labelling? (one example of this is people returning portable air conditioners not knowing they need to vent to the outside). Or does the website or video need to be simplified.
Of course you help the individual customer but how do you make it so less people call?
2 – Product returns. Most product returns are what is called “buyer remorse” in the industry. People buy it and do not want it once they get it out of the box. Again – why. Fix the reason. Fixing, replacing or destroying the product that is returned
3 – Customer reviews and social media. More customers review poor products than winners. Customers have the expectation of perfect products. Satisfaction has to do with expectations. Listen to what they say online. If they are unhappy, there is validity to it.
4 – Customer feedback and focus groups. There is nothing like speaking to a real user of your product to get the straight goods about what you sell.
A good closed loop system works well with a 5 why’s program. Using why again an again to determine the real issue. Usually the first why is not the right answer.
Simple is good. Target products to people on the assumption they lack expertise and have little patience to learn.
Insatiable curiosity if the mark of a good company. It is a good way to approach product quality.