Achieving total quality - a guide for all proprietors and directors

Achieving total quality is now the goal that most go-getting companies are striving to achieve. We now realize that in all aspects of business, if we are to get ahead of the competition; time, energy, and finances must be devoted to attaining all round perfection.

A company's quality ranking can easily be determined by the degree of customer service given by those in client liaison roles. This pinpoints departments such as Sales, Marketing, Administration and Accounts. The best way of accurately gauging the service they offer, is to conduct a customer service survey covering a range of questions such as how quickly is the phone answered when customers call, or how efficiently are complaints dealt with. The respondents should be a good cross section of customers; new and established as this will give you more accurate results.

Once you have the results, you have the starting point for setting up a total quality training program within your company. Any negative areas which have cropped up in the results of the survey should be the first to be addressed. It is important to assess why these areas or problems have developed and then take new measures or revise procedures to ensure they are eliminated in future.

Those with a responsibility for any amount of training whatsoever, (as well as the personnel department); such as department managers, or supervisors should all have copies of the survey results, and should all be present at a meeting to develop the findings of the survey into a total quality training manual for the company.

The manual should clearly and concisely spell out the correct procedures to be used when working in all the departments of the company. Each section should end with a practical exercise to assess the employee's comprehension of what he/she has read, and a questionnaire which can be used to get ideas and input from them.

In order for your company to truly shine, it is essential that while making sure that all your staff is up to date, you do not forget to train the trainers themselves! All department heads, managers and directors should be fully versed in their respective areas of expertise. Make sure that they:

  1. Attend courses relevant to their subject.
  2. Subscribe to at least one trade journal.
  3. Meet regularly with you for an informal 'brainstorming session'.

This means that they, and yourself too, should be sufficiently enthusiastic to motivate the rest of the team, and uphold the new total quality standards.