In society today quality plays an important role in customer satisfaction. A classic example of customer's being discouraged due to poor quality would be the case of Skoda cars. In the 80's and early 90's Skoda was known for it poor quality and this in turn affected both the brand image and also sales of the company. Once the Volkswagen Group overtook it in 1994, strategies have been implemented to put quality back into the product and to put the customer first. However before understanding the concept of "total quality management" (TQM) one must define quality. Quality is said to be "the ability to satisfy, or even exceed, the needs and expectations of the customer" (Mullins 1998). This quote is far more contemporary than some of the older definitions of quality below as there is the broader understanding that quality should exceed the expectations of the customer and also indicates quality is intangible and the level of quality often changes.
Other define quality as: "Quality is fitness for use"(Juran 1974) (4) or "Quality is a conformance to requirements or specifications" (Crosby 1979) - (4); however these definition have no inherent aspect on the customer; currently all businesses should be market orientated and hence any notion of quality should be developed for the customers benefit.
TQM is a management approach to long-term success, through achieving complete customer satisfaction. TQM is the complete approach to improve organisational performance and effectiveness. There are numerous definitions of TQM, but Mullins 5th edition (1999) says TQM is:
"A way of life for an organisation as a whole, committed to total customer satisfaction through continuous process of improvement, and the contribution and involvement of people" (3)
Laurie J Mullins Management and Organisation al Behaviour 5th Edition 1999
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