When we make a purchase we want to believe that we are receiving high quality goods or services for the cost of our transaction. What does high quality mean though? I think as consumers we sometimes enter into transactions with preconceived notions about the true workmanship or design of the product (the good or service) we are purchasing. Perhaps we haven’t taken the time to develop a clear vision of what the product is? Or, perhaps our expectations are not in line with those of the provider of the product. But how can that be so, isn’t the customer always right? Doesn’t the firm providing the product have an obligation to meet the expectations of the consumer? Well, no, not necessarily.
A provider of goods or services doesn’t have an obligation to meet the expectations of the consumer, though common sense dictates that they should; at least if they want to remain resilient in the marketplace. So what does dictate the quality of a product? The provider. Quality is a function of policy and design, realized through workmanship. As responsible consumers we should make an effort to evaluate the true quality of a desired product before we make a purchase. Providers of goods and services have an obligation to accurately present their products to the marketplace. By doing so they facilitate this decision making process, and ensure integrity in their transactions. So the truth is that, if the consumer/provider relationship is viewed properly, the consumer can’t rightly possess expectations outside the boundaries set by the provider about their product.
So if the provider of a good or service doesn’t actually have an obligation to meet consumer expectations, and in fact the provider sets the quality level of a product, who actually has the power in the consumer/provider relationship? The party with the power of the purse of course. Providers of goods and services must be vigilant in their effort to place the quality of their product ahead of what customer’s expectations are going to be; a necessity if a provider is going to continue to steer the marketplace. In effect identifying consumer needs, wants, and desires; possibly before the customer has framed them themselves. Which is the essence of disruptive innovation in the marketplace.
Translated into terms associated with Management Information Systems (MIS), providers integrate what are called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to drive information particular to consumer expectations to a provider’s decision makers and innovators. So back to our original question. What does high quality mean? High quality is a derivative value based on the accurately assessed current and future needs of a provider’s customer base, as determined by the provider of a product or service.