Quality control permeates everything you do as a small business owner. It can impact the products you sell, the customer experience and even employee retention. You can even stand out from your more established competitors by going out of your way to ensure excellence in all you do. You won’t have the distractions a larger corporation does to pull you in too many directions.
Surveys show around 90% of consumers feel customer service is the most important reason they remain loyal to a brand. If you aren’t focused on the quality of your client interactions, you risk losing them to a competitor. You can be sure some other brand will put the emphasis on quality customer service and pull your top patrons away.
Quality control is about more than the customer experience (CX) or service policies, though. It also should impact how you train your workers, how you check outgoing orders and even the quality of product packaging.
Why Is Quality Control Important in Small Business?
When customers interact with your brand, they have certain expectations of how the product will perform and treatment they’ll receive from your representatives. If you fail to meet those preconceived notions, you may lose the person forever and receive some bad reviews in the process.
It’s also vital you stay on top of small problems so they don’t become big issues for your business. For example, the inferior material a supplier sends you may become a larger snafu if you go ahead and ship products that break easily.
Staying on top of things ensures your products and presentation are the absolute best they can be. So, how can you increase your quality control and make sure your customers not only return but tell friends and family about you?
1. Define Quality
Before you can determine whether or not a product or service meets your quality standards, you must know what the goals are. Take the time to write out what you’re striving to achieve.
Talk to your customers and employees about what they expect. Do you overpromise and underdeliver? How can you flip that around?
Write out the minimum standards your products, employees and company must meet. Once you understand how you define quality, it’s much easier to fix issues impacting it.
2. Inspect Products
Start by inspecting every product leaving your facility or store. Whether you manufacture it or someone else does, you don’t want customers to receive something that doesn’t live up to its promise.
Look for ways to automate and improve the inspection process. Humans are fallible. Even the most dedicated inspector may miss things. However, when you work to integrate artificial intelligence and quality checkpoints, you can improve your efforts exponentially.
One example is seen in a system Advanced Illumination created for a bottling factory. The company improved their inspection success rate to 99.8%. Inferior products no longer left the facility and their overall CX improved.
3. Create a High-Quality Culture
Your company culture must reward an eye toward quality. Give your employees incentives to meet certain milestones and spot problems before they arise. Give kudos to the worker who creatively solves a problem.
Set the tone by asking your staff to thoroughly test products before you release them. Enlist their help in abusing the product in various ways to see how it withstands use outside the norm. Again, reward those who discover flaws so you can fix them before a customer experiences them.
Leadership should be the ones showing how to seek and fix issues. If you constantly check various quality measures, your employees will learn to do so as well.
4. Create Checkpoints
One of the best ways to find issues is to have a list everyone uses throughout the sales process. Whether you sell online, in a brick-and-mortar store or some other hybrid approach, you should know what likely issues arise and watch for them.
Either appoint a person to keep an eye on things or train staff to go through a checklist throughout the day.
Most quality failures are due to a minor element missed or a small flaw that grows into something larger.
5. Remember Mobile Users
According to Statista, approximately 54.8% of internet traffic is from mobile devices. The number didn’t include tablets, so most people who access the internet via smaller screens use their smartphones.
Part of your quality standards should include ensuring those who access your site via their smartphones have a seamless experience. Your mobile website should mirror your desktop one.
Take the time to check how everything looks and works on a smartphone. Is everything clickable? Do images and text scale to a readable size? Does anything fall off the screen? Pay particular attention to navigation and how well it works.
6. Review Regularly
Once you understand the quality control process and what things to look for as checks, you’ll want to review it regularly. Are you meeting the standards? What customer complaints did you receive last quarter and how can you adjust your process to best address those?
Get input from customers, employees and mentors so you consistently improve quality. Every business on the planet makes mistakes. The key is to learn and grow from them as you go along.
Is Quality Really That Important?
You’re trying to grow a business. You have an opportunity to make your name one customers trust or one they flee from. Offering a budget item is fine, but it should still fulfill your promises to the customer and solve a pain point for them.
If you find you get a lot of complaints or poor reviews, it’s time to revamp your processes and fix any quality control issues. It’s also smart to get ahead of issues and fix them before a customer gripes. With attention to detail and quality control measures, your small business will become an unstoppable force in your industry.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.
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