The primary connection between quality management and customer satisfaction is that the perceived quality of a product is often the dominant factor in a customer’s feelings about the purchase. For this reason, strong quality management can increase customer satisfaction. With this in mind, it is wise to consider the self-described needs of the customer while developing the quality management process.
A company that understands the connection between quality management and customer satisfaction will often be more likely to build a long-term relationship with its target market. This is primarily because the product measures up to or surpasses the level of quality the customer expects. If the purchase meets quality expectations, then the customer will begin to develop trust in the company, thus increasing overall satisfaction.
In order to acknowledge the connection between quality management and customer satisfaction, it can be useful to incorporate buyer feedback into the process. For example, determining which features of a product are most important to customers can help a company decide where to focus its quality management efforts. It allows the customers to define what quality means to them, rather than the company attempting to determine that definition on its own.
Another important aspect of quality management as it relates to customers is that customer’s definition of quality may change over time. Elements such as new developments in the industry, new requirements the customer might have of the product and other changes in the market environment can all cause a change in customer perception. It is often most effective to periodically redefine the customer’s definition of quality and incorporate those changes into the quality management process.
Quality management can have a particularly close relationship with customer satisfaction in the service industry. There are several aspects of this kind of interaction which can affect the customer’s perception of quality, including physical appearance, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. By quantifying and managing these elements, customer satisfaction and loyalty can be improved.
The quality of physical appearance includes everything from the way employees appear to the condition of the equipment and facilities. It is also important that the company proves it is reliable by performing the promised service in the anticipated time frame. The company must also be responsive to its customers and provide aid when it is requested, or even anticipate where there is likely to be a need. Customers must have the assurance that the company and its employees are qualified to provide a high quality service. It is also advisable to treat customers with empathy, so that they feel their opinions and satisfaction are important to the company.