Improving Quality and Satisfaction

The more participation by company employees in quality programs and the more ways they think up to improve customer satisfaction, the better the quality! Once your people understand and accept new TQM programs, regular discussion sessions should be scheduled to discuss quality problems and opportunities at least once each month. Ideally, these discussion sessions should be held across functional or departmental boundaries.

Will TQM training waste time? Companies new to TQM programs worry that training and discussion sessions will detract from available productive company time, lowering efficiency and increasing costs. Successful TQM programs have just the opposite effect. Every employee in every company can provide examples where efficiency can be improved. Most companies survive with large inefficiencies and unnecessary costs because they have reached a point with large enough sales and margins that these problems may not be readily apparent. If employees are encouraged and rewarded for TQM participation, with higher job satisfaction and perhaps even financial incentives, customer satisfaction, production, efficiencies, sales, and profits will increase. Costs and customer problems will decrease.

Involve employees in TQM improvement. To the degree possible, company personnel should be directly involved with the creation, modification, and writing of evolving quality guidelines and suggestions for improvement. Involvement may range from the simple suggestion box to written plan suggestions with preliminary cost savings/business increase analysis.

It's important that people in different functions or departments are encouraged to talk with and get help from each other. For example, the shipping and receiving worker who has an idea on improving unloading of cargo by arranging pallets in the trucks should be allowed to discuss and obtain more information from the buyers who order the cargo, so he can configure pallet loads more efficiently from suppliers.

Business Tools

Check the Business Tools area for a form and accompanying instructions that can be used by your employees to record and take action when customers aren't satisfied with your products or services.

Problem personnel. Once company TQM program training is underway, careful attention to each person's commitment level and TQM actions is necessary. If problems occur with some individuals resisting or actively sabotaging adoption of TQM, written documentation is recommended for each meeting and counseling session with the problem employee. If the problem is not resolved in a suitable period of time, a decision will have to be made on the future tenure of the problem employee. There is no place to hide a problem employee in a company committed to quality and customer satisfaction.