“Quality has always been about the fine points…” – Don Cornelius
Quality is about the details, the little things that make a difference. And like value, quality is always in the eye of the customer.
Have you ever closely examined a fine pair of shoes to see the detail of the work, the leather, the stitching, the soles, the way they fit, the way they make you feel when you wear them? Quality looks and feels different – it looks better, it feels better, it is better.
The same can be said about food, furniture, wine, practically anything we buy. High quality items are better. We know this because we have learned to tell the difference, to understand what sets one thing apart from another. We have learned to look at the fine points.
Just like you, your customers know quality when they see it, and they are often willing to pay more for it. Customers know when someone has gone the extra mile and put in the extra effort to deliver quality. Discerning customers are constantly raising the quality bar. Yesterday’s expectations for quality and dependability became today’s requirements.
Yet quality prized by one customer may mean very little to another. One customer may be very willing to pay extra for the fine points, they may place great value on higher quality. Another customer, however, may be very happy with an item of lesser quality purchased at a lesser price. The key is knowing how much value your customer places on quality and how much they are willing to pay for the level of quality they require. Consider a double-sided mattress: Some customers will pay more for a double-sided mattress, arguing two sides provide high quality through prolonged use and comfort. Other customers have no intention of ever flipping their mattress and feel two sides are a needless extravagance.
Companies often waste precious resources or miss valuable opportunities providing greater or less quality than their customers desire. They may be providing the very best, only to discover their customers want and will only pay for less. They may price themselves out of existence by providing higher quality than their customers want. On the other hand, they may be missing an opportunity to provide higher quality products and services to customers who are willing to pay for the best and will go elsewhere to find it.
So what level of quality do your customers require? Are you putting yourself at risk providing higher or lower quality than your customers need and are willing to pay for? Most importantly, how do you know?
Quality has always been about the fine points. Understanding what level of quality your customers require is a very important fine point.