Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”

by Tanmay Vora on November 13, 2009

ProcessesWelcome to the fifth post in this 12-part series on QUALITY, titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture.

Here are the first four posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes

#QUALITYtweet Look for and keep

excellent customers, for they will

drive your process excellence

A process-oriented customer will never prefer to work with a team that disregards processes. There is a natural alignment between process-oriented customers and process-oriented companies. When this alignment happens, your customer can be your strongest ally in process improvement journey.

I have seen a number of projects where customer introduces some very innovative and simple process elements that end up being a part of organization culture over a period of time. Somewhere, excellence of a customer does have a solid impact on quality culture of the organization. In this regards, an organization becomes as good as their customers are.

Companies typically begin their journey by serving small and then mid-sized enterprises. When they get to the next level, they aspire to get larger customers. Larger customers will invariably demand a certain level of process maturity. This aspiration to get larger customers can drive the process improvement journey of the organization, even if it is only from a sales perspective.

The key is to ensure that:

  • Processes help you gain larger/mature customers. (sales efficiency)
  • Processes also help you serve those customers the way they want. (operational efficiency)

When these two activities are consistently performed, processes attain a maturity and form the culture of an organization.

Core of a continuous process improvement culture is to seek constant customer feedback (formally and informally). The key objective of customer feedback is to identify processes that are effective (and consolidate them) and improve processes that are ineffective. In customer-driven organizations, customer feedback is taken very seriously.

Looking for and keeping excellent customers is a very sound strategy to drive your process excellence and create a strong differentiation in the marketplace.

How are you leveraging your customers to improve your processes?

Tanmay VoraTanmay is a Software Quality Management professional based out of India. He hosts QAspire Blog and tweets as @tnvora. He is also an author of the book #QUALITYtweet – 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Deliver Quality in Every Project
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