American Society for Quality has just come out with a report that compares customer expectations and quality of goods being sold to them. In plain simple english, the quality has fallen all around, even as customer expectations have increased. The reason quality has suffered is not because of the physical products, but the service around those products.
I can agree with that. Walk into any of the stores like Staples or CompUSA or for that matter Gap, and you are greeted by surly people, who little or no interest in helping customers since they make no commissions. The T-shirts are hanging out, the pants are too baggy and heaven forbid if they smile. Beyond retail, the industry where quality has suffered the most – Telecom.
Local and long-distance phone companies took the biggest hit in customer perceptions of quality, both declining an average of more than 9% over the last decade. Consolidation and intense competition are the most likely reasons. AT&T still is the leader in providing the best customer service, and hopefully that rubs off on SBC, which ranks only ahead of Sprint Local and Qwest.
Falling prices of service means companies have cut back drastically on customer service. Cellular phone business is no different as well. Still people think Verizon is pretty good quality and Samsung phones are pretty darn good – actually better than Nokia and Motorola. I suspect the VoIP and lack of quality there is going to only increase the negative perceptions of the telecom service. (See how the companies stack up here!)
Elsewhere, the perceived quality of personal computers declined 5.5% over the past decade, with Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM realizing the largest declines. Dell is the big winner in this category, with an increase in perceived quality of 4.4%. PC manufacturers have failed to meet customers’ expectations. For example, they advertised easy-to-install plug and play, but often when customers bought and plugged, the computers didn’t play, says Jack West, former ASQ President.
Hey how about Apple?