In the 1980’s, Philip Crosby came up with the Four Absolutes of Quality. We have used the Four Absolutes as the foundation for planning sessions, key decision-making and process improvement. I’m not a big fan of how Dr. Crosby originally wrote his Absolutes, so I’ll paraphrase:
- Conform to client’s expectations
- Prevention, not appraisal
- Zero defects
- Know the price of non-conformance
These absolutes apply to our service offering as they do for a production assembly line. Here are some examples:
- Our clients have expectations on how we represent them to their customers. They outline the dos and don’ts and we train, educate and manage to those standards. The key to a good customer experience is following ridged guidelines, but still sound like a human, not a robot.
- My favorite is prevention, not appraisal. We say the most important person in our organization is the CMR, because they are the one that faces our clients’ customer. The most influential position in our company is their supervisor who spends the majority of their time managing our people and process to PREVENT any problems. The popular principle for this process is “do it right the first time.”
- Zero defects can be a lofty goal for any organization, especially a service business like GCS. When you’re dealing with human behavior, perfection is not always realistic. We still want to expect perfection and be confident everyone knows what perfection looks and feels like.
- The Price of non-conformance is a negative way of monetizing quality. I’d rather look at the Value of conformance. In our business, we are rewarded for results. We are penalized for quality breeches. The rewards come in the form of more business and new programs. The penalties come in the form of process changes, fines and ultimately lost business. Our clients essentially have a zero tolerance stance on quality breeches. If we miss-represent their products or show disrespect to their customers, the cost is disproportionally high. Yes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. One bad sale or conversational meltdown can lose an entire program. We’ve seen it happen to us and to our competitors.
These Absolutes are timeless. They have been around for thirty years and no doubt will be around for thirty more. GCS has been around for ten years and if we continue to be true to these Absolutes, we’ll be around for another thirty.