Taj mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is a standing example of the Indian capability in producing quality products. This may appear surprising to many that India was more quality conscious in earlier times than it is today. Over the 500-600 years that have elapsed, India has slowly lost the art of producing quality products. In today’s highly competitive era, if we don’t have the will to produce quality products, then we must be forced to do so. The bottom line is produce quality products or perishes. For some years now, we have been hearing g about ISO certified companies. Is quality all about getting certificates?
Up to the early 60s most manufactures concentrated on the final product. Customer complaints and feedback were tolerated but not respected. In 70s competition soon emerged and in course of time it became intense. Product quality alone was not enough. Product reliability was more important. During the 70s and the 80s, most manufacturers of refrigerators offered at most a 1-year warranty. Today it is not uncommon to see them offering a 7 year warranty. They are able to do this because they are confident that the compressor which is the most critical part of the refrigerator will not fail over a 7- year period. Even if it fails, they are confident that it can be set right with the minimum of effort and cost.
Total customer satisfaction is today the principal focus of all manufacturers. Late Mrs Margaret Thatcher, former PM Of U.K; said in one of her speeches that quality means the customer coming back and not the product. Today, the customer is the king. He has choice of many brands vying for his purse. Consequently each manufacturer is trying to outdo the other, through superior product features, superior quality, superior service and superior financing options.
This is the story of a persuasive salesman. He worked for an American multinational. His task was to fight Japanese competition. The product category is highly sophisticated electronic instruments used in space and defence applications. The products of both the companies had similar features, but the Japanese products came with lower prices. However the Japanese distributor didn’t have much to offer in terms of after-sales support. Using this information, our sales man argued that in the event of a failure they have the infrastructure and highly trained professionals to immediately repair the instruments and hence they charge a higher price. The customer replied- “ Ah! But Japanese products do not fail. Your products do, so you need a trained team for support and hence the high cost. Don’t you know that your instruments are to be used on board and if they fail will you send someone up on to my Satellite!”
The truth is that quality need not be synonymous with high price. It is poor quality products which require extensive and expensive support systems, which is ultimately reflected in terms of higher prices. The Japanese focus on quality has made every single manufacturer in the world realize the importance of quality. So let us restore the lost art, so that every product or service that rolls out of India is a Taj Mahal.