Customers are the lifeblood of any other business and they want value for their money, especially in today’s setting where prices are skyrocketing. So it’s banal for companies to strive to satisfy their customers.

Satisfying a customer starts from taking their order to the delivery of the product, as identified in the reading, after-purchase customer service included. The buzzword is total quality management. One way to achieve total quality is through lean management. It focuses on removing wastes and wasteful activities that doesn’t add value or is unproductive. By waste we don’t only think of defects but also waiting time, overproduction and conveyance risks to name some of the seven. These wastes can occur anywhere in the process. This is why mapping the value chain is utterly important. This gives the people in the firm an overview where they could identify problem areas and areas for improvement and eventually be able to plan and do something to improve quality. Sounds easy but these are not steps in a cookbook (the succeeding paragraph will tell you why).

To be successful in improving total quality, one has to create a firm culture that values quality work and customer satisfaction. Personnel in all jobs must understand what quality means and how it is important to the firm. And this should be also true to employees who do not have direct customer contact. As the name goes, quality management is not something done only by the QC people but by everyone in every process from the production to the delivery of the product. Quality management is a firm-wide effort, aiming to give customers the best of what they could give or do in each process. We can view the whole production process as a chain that a slight movement in one segment affects the others. Each employee contributes to quality. All members (should) participate in improving the processes in an organization and be committed to improving quality and customer satisfaction. These firm-wide efforts will then be reflected in the finished product. Of course, this whole culture-creation job can be best achieved through the managers setting good examples themselves, as one line in an article reads, “Total company commitment begins at the top.” Another important ingredient is communication. Since quality management, as we’ve identified earlier, is not just the work of QC personnel rather a firm-wide effort, communication plays another important role. It links every segment or department so as to enable all departments to work as one. Communication is not only limited to communicating progress but also includes communicating problems areas where they and the other departments can improve on. And lastly, one should always challenge the status quo. Having done huge improvements in total quality does not mean that one can stop. Quality improvement is a continuous process. There’s is always room for improvement, as a cliché would put it. Today’s market is continuously improving, the customer’s needs never stop evolving and competition is growing tighter, stressing further the need for a firm to continually improve in total quality management.

Achieving (total) quality is indeed not as easy as any recipe you’ll find in a cookbook.