How Quality Affects Your Customer’s Buying Choice

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In the previous posts in this series, we gained an understanding of what the word quality means and that it has a different meaning to different parties.  We then acknowledged that the way the customer defines quality, while highly subjective and of utmost concern, can be simplified.  Today, we walk a step further, considering how a producer’s view on quality, while technically closer to optimal, may not be the best for business.  This variance in process and results is how quality affects your customer’s buying choice.  Let explore this further.

The illustration below shows the output of two companies making the same part. Company A has much tighter control over the dimension but their process is centered near the low limit. Company B, however, doesn’t have enough control to keep their products within spec all the time and produces a 3% out-of-spec product.

FIgure 1-1 The Book of Statistical Process Control

From a producer’s point of view, Company A would appear to be the better company. The tighter control of the dimensions reduces the cost of materials.


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Company A has much tighter control over the dimension but their process is centered near the low limit. Company B, however, doesn’t have enough control to keep their products within spec all the time and produces a 3% out-of-spec product. Again, from a producer’s point of view, Company A would appear to be the better company. The tighter control of the dimensions reduces the cost of materials.

But this is only one way to look at it.  What about the customer’s point-of-view?

What About the Customer’s Point-of-View?

A customer who is only buying one or two items would prefer Company B’s product. Why? Company B produces an average of 68% of their product in the middle third of the tolerance. And chances are greater that many of Company B’s parts will be exactly on target — a perfect product.

Company A’s products run towards the low end of the limits, which means there is only a slight chance of getting a perfect product and a good chance of getting an inferior one.

If Company A can center their process on the design target, they will have the better product. Centering a process is usually easier than reducing process variations. This is why controlling variables is the biggest problem in quality production.

In our next post, we will dig deeper on variation and controlling variability.


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This content is from Zontec’s The Book of Statistical Process Control.  You can download a free copy here.