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Services quality vs manufacturing quality – how do you define quality in a service organisation?

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Published: 2 Aug 2018

Sponsored article: Matt Tizzard explains why quality in services can be difficult to evaluate and shares some tools to help your business improve its quality culture.

Originally, quality was founded in the manufacturing industry. It is now widely applied in the manufacturing and services industries, with copious amounts of written research into quality implementation in both sectors.

This is quite apt timing because in today’s extremely competitive business arena, service organisations must adjust their ways of working, especially when quality in services is considered. Therefore, to maximise strategic quality management, quality must be implemented differently depending on the industry and subsequent sector.

Services have a number of characteristics that make the management of quality both more important and more difficult than in the manufacturing sector. These include; intangibility, heterogeneity, customer involvement and service production. These features do make the implementing quality management significantly different from that of the manufacturing sector and could be described as fluid or ever changing.

Within Shirley Parsons, a business services organisation offering QHSE recruitment solutions, it could be agreed that customer involvement is a critical factor in obtaining quality in services and implementing quality management. This is due to the complexity of the many relationships in the business between the employees and the customers. In the services sector there are many differences in the customer experience and outcome, in comparison to that of the manufacturing industry. For example, most processes, even the most effective and successful to the customer, are not always the same as the previous. They can differ depending on the circumstances or environment.

As a result, this can lead to quality in services being more difficult to evaluate than quality in manufacturing. However, there are many tools available to the services sector, such as those seen within the production line of the manufacturing industry. In fact, there are many synergies between the manufacturing and the services sector when implementing quality. A few quality tools we currently use are Kaizen and Quality Circles, Hoshin planning, and control charts to monitor time for hire/ “production”. This allows staff to be empowered to use process driving tools and language involved in quality management delivery. This sense of ownership could be suggested to be much easier than that of manufacturing, because processes are more consistent, and innovation of process will not be as common.

To conclude, if services organisations wish to be successful, they must understand the differences between manufacturing and service quality management implementation. Research suggests that it is a good time to implement, because quality in services is becoming increasingly popular among businesses, and further research is constantly being updated. Moreover, ISO 9001:2015 is now designed to meet all businesses’ needs with regards to quality management, regardless of their purpose.

For quality management in the services industry, implementation is led by understanding your own perception of quality in services against that of the customers. This will vary per customer and is challenging. The key is employee engagement. A relationship approach to customers is the best way to succeed in this sector, in the constant attempt to bridge the gap between perceived quality and the customer’s perception of quality.

About the author: Matt Tizzard is Quality / QA Recruiter at Shirley Parsons. Shirley Parsons are global leaders in HSEQ Recruitment, search and staffing services. They are an ever-growing global HSEQ talent network built on long-term relationships, industry knowledge, and geographic expansion.

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