Mar 09

The quality of services, a challenge In hard times

More pragmatically, a service company wanting to pursue quality based on its positioning, is currently at a crossroad along the development path. An easy way identifies with complying with the market trends, compromising/lowering the quality standards and giving clients what, all things considered, they seem to seek and want: “light” services, in other terms price, commitment and contents as well. A practicable alternative consists in defending the art of “doing things well” throughout the production line, thereby generating value for the client, a reasonable compensation paid for the professional standards and timing matching the actual quality.

In the former case, the risk resides with the client’s potential dissatisfaction – who is not given the value they know they need -, the potential dissatisfaction of the professionals committed to the projects who dislike “working carelessly” and end up being acknowledged a compensation that is not up to the effort they have put.
In the latter case, the risk resides with attaining a niche positioning and addressing the few clients who can still pay a price gap to access the highest quality standards.
I have the feeling that the majority of the business community in the world of services provided to corporates is torn by these queries and by the dilemma between the two strategies.

Personally speaking, I hold the view that service providers are to do their utmost in order to transform the very paradigm of quality and, thus, shift from an absolute to a relative mode. In other words they have to put aside the traditional and, by today’s standards, probably too inflexible, old-fashioned polarization.

The quality poured in knowing how to do things well is to be reinvented every time. We can no longer be lulled into the conviction there exists one way only, one style only and one methodology only to make a project a good project.
By paraphrasing a renowned sociologist, quality can be reconsidered in terms of “liquid quality”, namely the best quality ever in the limits of the various restraints dictated by the context. Which implies a sort of ad hoc quality per single project, situation, client. In order to obtain this result, an open-minded approach is necessary, while questioning the operating methodologies and processes, instead of sticking to present learning and may be to what has been done repetitively over a great many working years. Sometimes it is about being humble, drawing on and even replicating other people’s models, approaches, walking away from established models and behaviours and from the syndrome “it’s not invented here”.
Something to be achieved by staying focused on a few key principles, the number one being ethical foundations, sense of responsibility, value of commitment.
And finally by drawing pleasure on satisfying, indeed impressing the client which is every company’s ultimate raison d’être.