Customer Perception of Quality

Quality is a relative term that is generally used with reference to the end application of the product. For example, if we are going to use equipment in sugar cane then we cannot demand a surface finish, tolerance, and accuracy compared to equipment used in the headstock of the lathe. Hence, quality deals w'ith the fitness of the product for a particular application at an economic level.

The quality depends on the perception of a person in a given situation. The situation can be user-oriented, cost-oriented, or supplier-oriented.

The quality has a variety of meanings such as:

  • • Fitness for purpose or fitness for use.
  • • Conformance to requirement.
  • • Compliance to specification.
  • • Degree of excellence.
  • • Customer satisfaction.
  • • The ability of a product or service to perform the intended function satisfactorily.
  • • Quality is the totality of the product characteristics which enable it to satisfy customer requirements.
  • • A quantitative definition of quality is the ratio of performance of the product to the expectation of the user.

Factors Affecting the Quality of the Product

The prime factors affecting quality are:

  • 1. Product design.
  • 2. Material used.
  • 3. Manufacturing technology used.
  • 4. Human factor.
  • 5. Machine tools used.
  • 6. Inspection and testing procedure.
  • 7. Service after the sale.
  • 8. Costumer feedback.

Quality Characteristic of a Product

There are ten product characteristics which will completely define the quality of product. These characteristics are:

  • 1. Performance.
  • 2. Conformance.
  • 3. Reliability.
  • 4. Feature.
  • 5. Durability.
  • 6. Response.
  • 7. Service.
  • 8. Safety.
  • 9. Aesthetics.
  • 10. Reputation.

Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is the collection of data from various resources like website, email, personal interviews, etc. from a customer about the product provided by manufacturers, for a given use in a given intended function. With the help of customer feedback, any manufacturer can find out about customer loyalty to their product. Customer loyalty is important for any business to mature.

For any organisation to survive in a competitive marketplace, it’s necessary to know about the customer, their thinking about the product, their thinking about your competitor, their thinking about your service, etc. Customer opinion also helps the growth of the business. There are various ways to profit by customer feedback. There are several reasons, why feedback is important for business.

  • 1. Customer feedback can improve the quality of products and services: In starting off in business, there is no idea about what customer needs, but if you introduce your product after feedback, it helps to know your customers’ requirements. After feedback, any organisation improves and modifies their product according to customer requirements.
  • 2. Through customer feedback you can measure the satisfaction level of customer: Through customer feedback, you can easily analyse and measure the satisfaction level of the customer about your product. Customer satisfaction is the prime element of TQM. And the fourth dimension of TQM is always directed towards the accomplishment of the prime objective of any TQM programmes, and hence it yields better performance and quality of the process. For example, industries, institutes, services, and manufacturing.
  • 3. Through customer feedback, you can measure the value of manufacturers from the customer’s point of view: Through customer feedback and their loyalty to the firm, you see the value of manufacturers, or you can say what their place is in the competitive market. If manufacturers judge their own position in the market, then they improve by taking corrective action towards the improvement. Through customer feedback, any company can analyse their flaws. Any organisation when asking the customer if they are happy with service provided by an organisation shows that the organisation is always w'ith the customer, and makes the customer feel good and they will spread positive views of the organisation.
  • 4. Customer feedback, you generate the best customer experiences: Today, the sustainability of any organisation heavily depends on the experiences people have with products, brands, and services. They do not buy Nike products just because they are good, but they buy them because they know their status and affiliation to a particular brand or group. They do not buy Levi’s clothes because their durability is high; they buy because of customer experience and their group status. Therefore, if you concentrate on providing the best customer experience to satisfy the customer, they will stay loyal to your brand.
  • 5. Customer feedback helps to improve customer retention: If the customer is satisfied with your service, then they will stay with you, otherwise they leave. Customer feedback helps to know if a customer is satisfied or dissatisfied. If the customer is satisfied, that means they will stay with you. A dissatisfied customer can leave, so this is the right time to be sorry about your service and take corrective action towards sorting out their problem in every way. This is the right time to show your reliability and customer backing; it can also improve the loyalty of the customer.
  • 6. Customer feedback is a reliable source for information about the product or service to another customer: Nowadays, consumers believe customer feedback, rather than commercial advertisement and expert opinion. Any customer, if going to purchase anything, will first visit Facebook and other trustworthy blogs and take feedback from them. After that, they decide to choose a product or service provider. So, customer feedback is important to your business, as well as a reliable source of information for another customer.
  • 7. Customer feedback gives you information that helps make decisions toward business growth: Any organisation’s growth depends on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty which is updated and developed by customer feedback. To sustain a business in a competitive marketplace, it’s important to make a business decision on the base of true feedback. There is no place for business decisions in the competitive marketplace based on false information. Nowadays, any company can get reliable information from customer feedback. Any organisation’s growth depends on customer satisfaction, which is why the customer should be at the centre of your business. For business growth, the customer’s voice should not be avoided. The customer’s voice can be converted into technical requirements with the help of QFD and the allocation of quality responsibility to the department concerned. In other words, QFD is an assignment of specific quality responsibility to a specific department. Therefore it is a process of sharing quality responsibility by all the departments right from design, production inspection, testing, and after-sales service in any organisation. QFD is basically a mechanism which converts customer requirements into technical requirements. QFD is an important tool to improve customer requirements towards customer satisfaction. The customer’s voice is important for any business, so never stop listening to the customer’s voice.

Service Quality

Customer satisfaction depends directly on the service quality, which is a basic opportunity to help to run a business smoothly. The growth of the business and the profit of the business are especially based on the reliability of the customer. For any organisation, it is crucial to know the customer’s perceptions about a service regarding its satisfaction levels. As a result, customers’ interest would increase, and the company will grow, as well as the number of clients increasing.

Customer dissatisfaction is mainly dependent on the customer’s perceptions about the service. What is the customer’s view about the service, and the service gap? The service gap can be found out by the analysis of customer views and feedback. The following are few important service gaps:

  • 1. Understanding: The understanding gap arises due to a lack of knowledge of customer needs. In other words, we can say there is a communication gap between customers and manufacturers. It can be reduced by spending time taking feedback from the customer about their requirements.
  • 2. Promotional: This type of gap arises due to the improper advertising of products or services, and the customer being unaware of your service quality and various promotional schemes.
  • 3. Performance gap: This is the gap between what was said and what was provided. It is the difference between the given specification and the actual services provided.
  • 4. The gap between promise and delivery: This type of gap arises due to the difference between promises and delivery.
  • 5. Management perception about consumer: This is the difference between management perceptions about consumers and vice versa.

A few important service gaps have been shown in Figure 4.2.

Some service gaps

FIGURE 4.2 Some service gaps.

Customer Retention

Early on, a company was focused on making new customers rather than thinking about retention of the customer, but now' retention of the customer is most important. There may be different questions, e.g., what is customer retention, why are they needed, and what is the benefit of customer retention.

As mentioned earlier, if a customer is satisfied with your service, then they will stay with you, otherwise they leave. Customer feedback helps to know if the customer is satisfied or dissatisfied. If the customer is satisfied, that means they will stay with you. A dissatisfied customer can leave, so customer retention is important to any business if they want to stay in business.

Customer retention can be explained as how any organisation or company are able to maintain their existing customer base by providing good products, after-sale service, and good relationships with the customer, helped by your good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy. It is important these days to retain customers. Firstly, it is cost-effective, and secondly, it is a profitable strategy. Customer retention provides an ability to survive in a business world in the long-terms. There are several benefits of customer retention:

  • • Increasing the re-purchasing behaviour of the customer.
  • • Increasing the number of customers.
  • • Increasing the loyalty of the customer.
  • • Increasing the reputation of companies.
  • • Decreasing negative customers.
  • • Converting a negative customer to a positive customer.
  • • Spreading positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

Consumer behaviour drives customer relationship marketing which is tactical in nature. Johnson (1998) has given some philosophies toward customer retention; these are:

  • 1. It requires allocating market resources. According to Johnson, to generate higher profits, the company has to use some marketing activities for consumers. Decisions regarding keeping company budgets flat or otherwise depends on increasing sales/profits.
  • 2. Actively based on customers retained. Customers like to feel in control and they like to feel good about their decision-making and choices. Marketers profit from this behaviour through promotional marketing by engaging the potential customers and making them feel awesome about it.
  • 3. Keeping the relationship between the company and consumer alive in order to retain them. They might slip away if the company doesn’t keep in touch with the customer. There is a great chance that customers might slip away from the company due to the uninterested approach of the company towards them.
  • 4. Customer data collection is a dynamic process, and thus marketing becomes highly evolved and dynamic. The marketers have to go back and forth, because they must listen to what their customers require.

Conclusion

Customers’ and employees’ involvement are the most important for every organisation towards quality production, control of quality, etc. In the market, you have a kind of customer with a different perception of quality. According to TQM philosophy, customer perception of quality leads to continuous improvement. This concept emphasises that there is no definite quality level, because the customer’s needs and expectations are continuously changing with time. Various researchers and authors have given some methods for customer satisfaction. The Kano model is one of them. Customer perception of quality varies with the customer. The quality of the product depends on the purpose of use or its fitness for use. Overall, quality can be improved by customer feedback. Customer feedback can show' the company’s status. Customer feedback can be said to be the data provided by the customer toward quality production.

Retention of a customer of any organisation depends on the customer’s satisfaction level. There are three types of satisfaction level. The first is satisfied, then dissatisfied, then the delight level. If a customer is delighted, they wall always be with the organisation; another one is satisfied, and they are searching for alternatives w'hich then could lead to them quitting the existing organisation. The last one is the dissatisfied customer; they cannot be retained again in the existing organisation.

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Customer Satisfaction Survey of ETDC Chennai, India

Electronics Test and Development Center (ETDC) Chennai is generally engaged in testing and calibrating of electronics items. In the year 1996, before implementing the TQM programme, the company decided to do a survey on the customer satisfaction index, for the company had done many steps like brainstorming with senior executives. For the survey, they used four parameters to measure the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI).

  • 1. Promptness of service (PI).
  • 2. Quality of customer service (P2).
  • 3. Quality of testing and calibration (P3).
  • 4. Quality of test and calibration reports (P4).

At the end of the financial year, the CEO sent a letter to 150 clients and requested and motivate them to give feedback. In the feedback form, they were given the four parameters of CSI. They asked to clients to rate the above parameters against the scale from 5 to 1: 5 for excellence, w'hile 1 was for poor. About 35% of the clients gave feedback, then the customer satisfaction of each parameter were determined by the weighted average method. The weighted average method is explained as follows:

For example, assuming that 12 clients has given feedback for CSI.

S. No.

Rank

No. of respondent

1.

5 = Excellent

8

2

4

2

3

3

1

4

2

1

5

1 = Poor

0

Then, CSI for Promptness = 5x8+4x2+3x1+2x1/12 = 44/12 = 3,67.

In this example, the CSI was expressed in terms of the above four parameters. This exercise was repeated continuously over three years, and the results obtained were as follows.

S. No.

Year/Parametrers

P1

P2

P3

P4

1

2000-2001

3.55

3.76

3.96

3.83

2

2001-2002

4.27

4.11

4.11

4.04

3

2002-2003

4.36

4.2

4.33

4.3

Case Study 2: Car Owner Satisfaction (Mercedes-Benz)

Jeff S. Bartlett shared his experience and gave feedback by the client. Under the survey results, the average price for new cars continues to rise, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Consumer Reports members shared the experiences they’d had with more than 500,000 vehicles in our 2018 auto surveys. Primarily, they were asked whether they would buy the same car again. That decision is the basis of CR’s owner satisfaction score.

This year’s data is on how owners rated their cars on satisfaction in five categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, and audio controls, showing where a car shines and where it comes up short.

The survey results showed that in every vehicle type, there is a significant spread between the models that met expectations and those that were disappointing.

Points to Remember

  • Customer Needs and Requirements: Customer needs can be defined as the problems that customers sort out by the purchase of products, goods, or services. According to CEO of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs, you should ‘Get closer than to ever to your customer.’
  • Customer Satisfaction Model: Customer satisfaction can be defined as the product supplied by the company performed the intended function, or you can say that it is a measure of customer expectation. Customer satisfaction is the most important tool to improve business in any organisation. There are some reasons which are important to customer satisfaction.
  • Customer Perception of Quality: The quality depends on the perception of a person in a given situation. The situation can be user-oriented, cost- oriented, or supplier-oriented. Quality has a variety of meanings such as:
    • 1. Fitness for purpose or fitness for use.
    • 2. Conforming to requirements.
    • 3. Compliance with specifications.
    • 4. Degree of excellence.
    • 5. Customer satisfaction.
  • Customer Feedback: Customer feedback is the collection of data from various resources like a website, by mail, personal interview, etc. about a customer that they are pleased with the product provide by manufactures, and it is working in its given intended function. With the help of customer feedback, any manufacturer can find out customer loyalty about their product. Customer loyalty is important for any business to go ahead.
  • Service Quality: Customer satisfaction directly depends on service quality which gives one the basic opportunity to help to run a business smoothly, and to grow the business and the profit of the business, especially depending on the reliability of the customer.
  • Customer Retention: Early on, any company was focused on making new customer rather than thinking about retention of the customer, but nowadays retention of the customer is most important. There are different questions: what is customer retention, why is it needed, and what is the benefit of customer retention.

Self-Assessment Questions

  • 1. Discuss in brief the customer’s needs and requirements.
  • 2. Explain the customer satisfaction model.
  • 3. Write about the customer satisfaction level.
  • 4. What do you mean by customer perception of quality?
  • 5. What do you understand by customer feedback and how it helps organisational growth?
  • 6. What do you mean by service quality?
  • 7. What is customer retention and how do you retain a customer?

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