The prefix meta- is used to mean “about its own category.” For example, under the umbrella of business intelligence you often hear the term “metadata” which means data concerning data. For purposes of this short post, “metaquality” could be described as the process and operations through which quality assurance impacts the quality of the customer experience (quality concerning quality) through all phases of the customer lifecycle.
Your customers generally move through a decision making process which opens the gate for multiple functional areas to have potential impact on the customer experience:
• Awareness and need identification
• Explore and qualify alternatives
• Solution discovery and evaluation
• Negotiation and purchase decision
• Implementation and post sales service
• After purchase acclimation and evaluation
At each strategic stage of the sales process, research & development, marketing, sales, services and finance will have various levels of influence on the quality of the overall customer experience; which means quality assurance during all phases of the customer lifecycle is critical. In the Seapine Software Quality-Ready Assessment respondents were asked: “What level of priority does your company currently assign to building quality into your software development environment?” Nearly 65% of the over 900 respondents rated their software quality initiatives as high or one of their top priorities. However; it also appears that many companies are still not committed to quality improvement. In other words, they are only paying lip service about quality, and as a result there is a discrepancy with how their customers view the relationship. Consider the following statistics from the Cutter Consortium, an IT advisory firm.
• 32% of organizations say they release software with too many defects.
• 38% of organizations believe they lack an adequate software quality assurance program.
• 27% of organizations do not conduct any formal quality reviews.
The current combination of declining customer satisfaction levels and economic concerns is creating the perfect customer experience storm. In this type of business climate those companies that focus on quality will be the ones that come out on top. That means a relentless and coordinated approach to quality improvement across all functional areas has never been more important.
Being customer-centric truly requires metaquality as you’ve defined it: building-in hassle-free gratifying experiences for customers at every step. Requiring diligent planning and business process QA by multiple functional areas, well beyond the product itself. Do you think more Marketing executives will take this on? Or do you think the impetus will be felt primarily by Operations or Service or Quality execs?
– Lynn Hunsaker, http://www.ClearAction.biz, ClearAction mentors executives for customer profitability through advocacy and churn/hassle prevention.
That’s a good question. Imagine an organization that fully understands the needs and desires of its target market, and that the marketing mix is combined in a way that fully supports the overall business strategy. In other words, manufacturing (R&D), product management, product marketing, advertising & public relations, sales, service, finance and logistics have all pulled together to provide perfect alignment. Was that hard to imagine? From my point of view most marketers are still working in highly matrixed environments that yield loosely knit strategies at best. Don’t get me wrong, matrixed environments are not going to go away. Particularly in large organizations where you need specialists because the scope of the whole marketing job is just too big for one person. Yet, the fact remains that alignment breakdowns between these functional areas continues to put business strategies (and customer experience models) at risk.
A simple but often overlooked discipline to ensure that marketing is facilitating strategic alignment and that the marketing mix is focused on the desired customer experience is to use a written marketing plan for each marketing strategy developed. There is value to organizing, documenting and writing down a marketing plan. The very process of bringing functional areas together to ask and answer the questions posed in a comprehensive marketing plan will create a road map to guide your total marketing efforts, and help bring strategic alignment.