The management of quality has a long history, culminating in the U.S. and Western Europe in the late 1980s as Total Quality Management, or TQM. Prior to the industrial revolution, skilled craftsman were responsible for the quality of their production. Poor quality would cost them craftsman their livelihood.
With the industrial revolution, machinery and specialization of tasks were applied to a relatively illiterate workforce to produce large quantities of goods. Those producing the goods no longer had any expertise on the production of the end product, and could no longer assess the quality of production as had been done in the past. As a result, one of the workers would be given the title of inspector with the sole task of inspecting the final product. However, inspectors typically lacked training, were coerced into accepting defective product in order to increase output, and the good inspectors were moved into managerial or planning roles. Hence the quality control department emerged, a separate and distinct function from the manufacturing function (and the planning function as well).
The Quality Control function slowly evolved to the inspection of subassemblies at various points in the manufacturing process in addition to inspection at the end of the production line. This was a needed improvement as products became increasingly complex and quality inspection at the end of the line could no longer determine the failing component.
By the end of WWII, Japan’s manufacturing capability was virtually destroyed. Previously, Japan had a reputation of producing low-quality imitation products and they sought to change this with the help of leading quality thinkers, Deming, Juran and Feigenbaum. Throughout the 1950’s, quality programs and practices developed rapidly and became a national preoccupation. Quality was built into the organization, from the ground up and from the top down. Finally, in the 1970’s, Japan’s exports to the U.S. and western Europe increased significantly and the surprising level of quality in the products caught manufacturers there unprepared.
The U.S. and western European companies fought back in the 1980’s starting with programs such as QIBP (Quality in the Business Process), DFM (Design For Manfacturability), and finally ISO 9000 and the Baldrige National Quality Program, and the culmination in TQM.
But where is the Contact Center in all of this? Can TQM actually be applied in the Contact Center?
Of course it can, it’s just a matter of how.
Join Brian Flagg, Contact Center Expert and Senior Executive at Cincom Systems in a webinar on the topic August 9, 2012 at 1p.m. EST. Brian will explain how shifting investment in end-of-the-line QA processes to investing in infusing quality into interactions in critical to customer loyalty and retention.
Register NOW, and you’ll receive the Cincom Special Report: Total Quality Management (TQM) in the Contact Center when it becomes available.