The world is going through a rapid growth curve characterized by exponential technologies and changing customer expectations. This change is also accompanied by growing societal demands to “do no harm”. With these new realities, comes a general sense that companies have less room for error, and much more to lose. Never before has it been more important for companies to pursue a culture of quality. A ‘culture of quality’ is defined by Srinivasan and Kury (2014) as “an environment in which employees not only follow quality guidelines but also consistently see others taking quality-focused actions, hear others talking about quality, and feel quality all around them.” A company’s quality culture has a tangible impact on the quality of its products, on its ability to attract and retain talent, on its overall sustainability, as well as its profitability.
This culture of quality matures over time, as norms are passed from one generation of employees to the next. To transition an organization’s culture to embody quality requires commitment and deliberate management of the change processes. But the benefits of doing so are significant. According to the research, a company with a highly developed culture of quality spends, on average, $350 million less annually fixing mistakes than a company with a poorly developed one. For companies, large and small, that are pursuing these gains, Archima suggests that digital transformation initiatives can create the perfect environment within which such a culture of quality can emerge.
Digital Transformation Initiatives Can Create a Culture of Quality
Digital Transformation is a process of creating a new mindset for the way in which products and services are delivered to customers at the highest quality as efficiently as possible using technology, processes, and people. Creating a culture in which such a mindset can thrive, starts by defining what quality means to you. You will find that quality means different things to different people in different organizations.
So beyond the guidance of your company’s core mission and values, you must ask what else should you provide to create a culture of quality that delivers value, and competitive advantage? What constitutes high quality? What are the thresholds for high quality? Why should your employees work hard on creating a culture of quality within your company? How does a culture of quality benefit your customers?
“Quality” in this sense is not merely an exercise in subjective judgment. It is based on an objective standard or set of KPIs which are agreed on. In order to ensure accountability for delivery on quality, organizations need to consistently measure, report, and reward its progress. This is why Digital Transformation initiatives create the ideal opportunity for such objective standards to emerge.
In our professional practice at Archima, we have discovered that one of the best ways to embark on the mission is to start with one or two customer-facing areas of the organization. By making a meaningful impact on the customer experience, you not only improve the bottom line, but you will start to form the culture necessary to achieve consistently higher quality. Examples of such programs might include creating a new version of your website, building an improved version of your web chat service, or implementing a cloud-based payment portal. It can be implementing a customer satisfaction tracking program in the cloud that specifically measures customer complaints from inbound calls, and how they are received and handled by the employee who responded. And the list goes on.
The point is organizations can then assess these efforts based on key performance indicators, such as the number of new sign-ups, the number of new leads, the number of customers that completed customer satisfaction surveys, etc. An organization’s testing, learning, and reporting strategies once based on these assessments will demonstrate what ultimately caused the organization to achieve or deviate from a given performance measurement target. By adopting this kind of systematic approach to your digital transformation initiatives, your business can set high expectations and participate in a process of experimentation that emphasizes and prioritizes quality at all levels.
Here are five additional ways to leverage your digital transformation initiatives to create a culture of quality:
- Every digital transformation vendor or partner needs to understand their role in reaching and sustaining quality. So if the focus is to make something safe and error-free, then they must understand upfront that there are no cutting corners.
- Every board member, every leader, every employee has a common responsibility in setting the benchmark for quality in the company. Everyone must meet set standards for accuracy, consistency, and on-time delivery. This can be a lifeline for any progressive company serious about digital transformation.
- Remind your employees that well-designed and deployed digital services are the building blocks that make the company possible. If your marketing department designs a digital service that uses the latest disruptive technology and incorporates the latest processes to be able to serve customers more quickly and affordably, then celebrate their efforts, and provide the relevant feedback.
- Invest in digital transformation research that supports improvement processes for your company that lead to lower costs, reduced waste, and achieve client satisfaction in the process. This provides the justification for pursuing a culture of quality.
- Make the company’s performance metrics and the quality data from that system available to your employees through data dashboards, and make periodic independent quality audits available when possible. This way conversations about quality can be a regular part of your organization’s way of working.
When data is transparent, expectations are clear for all involved , and your initiatives are adequately resourced, your digital transformation program will become the catalyst for building a culture of quality that lasts. To learn more and start your Digital Transformation journey, please schedule your no-obligation consultation here today.