Why Give a **** About Quality?

Traditionally, Quality Management has been about deciding which ISO registrations an organisation needs and then putting in place the processes,...

Traditionally, Quality Management has been about deciding which ISO registrations an organisation needs and then putting in place the processes, metrics, continuous improvement tools and the documentation necessary to get them – all done by the Quality Department. However, with the dominance of internet-based business, the customer-led quality revolution is getting stronger and stronger.

The decision about which product to buy, from which company is driven by what other customers are saying on the many rating websites and social media rather than what companies are saying about themselves and their products. Customers are more powerful than they have ever been and that power is continuing to grow.

So how should organisations respond? The most logical answer is to return to the original 3 aspects underpinning the quality movement of the 60s and 70s:

  • Use data and analysis to improve performance.
  • Orientate organisations towards meeting the needs of their customers.
  • Stress the need for team effort at all levels.

The first aspect is no problem nowadays. It is the second and third, (the human aspects) that are missing in today’s world. The voice of the customer is not being integrated into the fabric of organisations, there is no visible management commitment to providing customers with products and services that they truly value and so the people that work there do not recognise that each of them, personally, has an effect on the organisation’s success.

Long-term success depends more and more on understanding how customers perceive the quality of what they are sold as well as their experience of the organisation generally, and then delivering it. Their needs have to be prioritised and tied into quality systems.

Leaders of any type of organisation need to personally:

  • be a role-model for customer-led quality – every day with no exceptions.
  • make sure that all of their employees are allowed and encouraged to talk to customers to find out what they need / don’t need, want / don’t want, like / don’t like.
  • prioritise the tasks that contribute to solving problems that cause customer dissatisfaction.
  • help and support changes anywhere in their organisation that will positively affect how customers experience the quality of the product or service they pay for.
  • respond quickly, briefly and clearly when people ask you for information, authority, permission to do something.

To lead the change to customer-led quality, leaders need to re-adjust the focus of their Quality Management system to fall equally on the people, the environment and the nuts and bolts of producing what they sell.


  • Make everyone see quality not just as something that is done to get a certificate.
  • Make sure that everyone in the organisation understands that focussing on quality is everyone’s business, and everyone’s business should focus on quality.
  • Find out what customers are saying on social media, rating sites etc.
  • Talk to customers to find out how your products, services and organisation fits into their world and what their definition of quality is.
  • Make sure the voice of customers is heard throughout the organisation.
  • Support the attitudes, values and behaviours of customer-led quality.
  • Make the organisation‘s values reflect their focus on customers and the importance of Quality.
  • See to it that the management team live those values every day, no exceptions.
  • Build customer-led quality into every process. Processes should be flexible enough to respond to changes in customers’ circumstances.
  • Direct goals and KPIs clearly towards giving customers their definition of quality.
  • Set up a single set of tools that everyone understands.


Ian Purdy & Sheila Purdy, Why Should I Give A ***** About Quality? Understanding and profiting from the customer-led quality revolution, 2015

Sheila Purdy
"I love to watch people blossom into their best selves and become role-model leaders." Expertise Background Personal Born in the...


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