“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him….”
Golden words said by Mahatma Gandhi, so true even in this modern, digitised and ever changing world. And, there is ample evidence of organisations and economies gaining success as super powers based on their ability to focus on customers and quality.
This article explains the rising economic power of quality, it’s relevance to Indian manufacturing, and some key learnings from the Maruti Suzuki experience.
The rising economic power of Quality: A Global Perspective
According to a recently published report by Forbes Insights and ASQ — a global community of quality professionals — top executives and quality professionals see a direct connect between the success of their organisations and the continuous improvement and performance excellence initiatives. The report brings out the importance of customer experience in today’s competitive economies.
The report surveyed 1,869 senior executives and quality professionals around the world including India. There are compelling links between quality efforts and corporate performance as well as the evolving business value of quality. Thirty-six percent of enterprises surveyed said that they regard themselves as an established quality organisation while 39 percent reported that they are still developing their quality programs and 25 percent said they are struggling to implement quality in their companies.
The report finds that those industry organisations that are considered world-class and a benchmark, demonstrate the following key characteristics that set them apart from their competitors:
• They recognise quality as a strategic asset and competitive differentiator;
• They have strong metrics in place to measure costs and benefits;
• Their continuous improvement or performance excellence efforts are directly tied to customer satisfaction and;
• Their business performance; training and education are widespread across the organisation and available to all employees, contractors and partners.
Benchmark organisations understand that because of customer demand, responsiveness and change is vital to competitiveness. They also transform regularly to design and build products quickly to meet the needs of their customers. Once products are sold, the relationships with customers continue through ongoing engagement and service delivery.
In today’s fast-moving, increasingly digitised economy, continuous improvement must pervade all activities across organisations. By following the steps of incorporating performance excellence into business, creating a quality culture, keeping the customer at the core of organisational focus, running an open no-fault environment and preparing for digital disruption, organisations will be assured of the growth and enhanced profitability that quality will deliver.
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C. V. Raman is Senior Executive Director of Engineering, Maruti Suzuki India Limited. He is responsible for Product Design & Development. He has headed various product development teams as project manager right from concept to SOP. The most successful of these is the Vitara Brezza, (where he was the Chief engineer) which is runaway success in Indian market. He is also responsible for setting-up up a world class R&D center for Maruti Suzuki. He also has extensive experience in Vendor Development & Supply Chain Management including supplier upgradation through Joint Ventures & Technical Collaboration.