Ways to Improve Quality at your Small Business

The business world is full and spilling with quality programs and experts. However, for most small businesses, an in depth quality program utilizing higher-level scientific concepts and mathematical formulas isn’t the recommended way to go.

Rather, what’s required is a commonsensical and uncomplicated approach to quality as explained in the following four steps:

1. Document your processes

For a small business to improve its quality, processes should be made uniform across the organization and over time. The best way to achieve this is by documenting your processes and making sure that the actual performance of the work matches the documentation. It’s not an easy job to document your work processes, but quality improvement needs that things be done consistently.

2. Identify quality issues

Managers and employees must embrace quality issues as opportunities to get better at their value offerings. Top-level executives must be careful not to treat  employees who report quality issues as if they were to blame for the issues.

No company, whether big or small, likes to learn that quality issues exist in its processes. Nonetheless, companies need to make raising the issues that exist a positive thing and resist the urge to sweep them under the carpet. Employees will not only hide critical issues when they observe that others who raise quality concerns are routinely punished, they will also keep mute when they feel that their discoveries are ignored.

3. Solve the customer’s problem

It’s unreasonable to assume that problems would never arise with your product or service. Fair enough, most customers understand that mistakes happen. The issue is with how you handle the problem when it occurs. Managed poorly, the mistake can result in the loss of a customer. Handled well, the result can be a loyal customer who feels well cared for. The key is to take full responsibility and ensure that you treat the customer more than fairly. 

In the event that a problem occurs, the top priority must be resolving the issue for the customer. 

4. Ensure that the problem doesn’t reoccur

Having executed the three prior steps, too many companies call the issue closed. After all, the customer has been satisfied.

The urgent issue is resolved, but this approach misses the opportunity to prevent future quality problems. It is imperative to ask, “What caused this problem, and what do we need to do to ensure that it never happens again?” Once you have answered these questions, you can correct the process.

This is why having well documented processes is the first step to quality improvement. When a flaw in the process is identified, the fix can quickly be rolled out across the entire organization only if everyone is doing things in the same way.

While following this course of action sounds simple, it requires a disciplined approach and getting the nuances right can be critical. Properly executed, it will put your enterprise on the path to continuous improvement. In the long run, the rewards will be well worth the effort.