All South Africans need to seriously think about the quality of products and services they put out, says Product of the Year CEO and Chief Innovation Analyst Preetesh Sewraj commenting on World Quality Day, a day dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of quality to both organisational and national growth.
Delivery of quality is a huge challenge in South Africa, says Sewraj, resulting in poor service delivery across nearly all sectors of the economy.
Reflecting on this year’s theme ‘Everyday Leadership’, Sewraj says leadership is both a skill and behaviour that should be ingrained in every individual and organisation’s DNA.
“Quality is the pursuit of constantly improving, innovating and pursuing excellence. Everyone in their day-to-day living is receiving and delivering services whether at home or at work and we are all consumers of goods in one form or another. World Quality Day provides an opportunity for us to pause and consider the importance of quality in our lives,” says Sewraj.
“Focussing on offering great quality at a fair price is the best way to retain consumers in this tough economic climate”
Find out what Sewaraj says about why businesses should have a quality-focused mindset, and why we need to develop a culture of demanding better quality goods.
Q: How do you think South Africa ranks in terms of the quality of our products and services?
South Africa is lucky to receive best-in-class products from around the world so we do have fantastic quality within our borders.
This does not necessarily mean that all products are great. Like most developing markets, the income gap does mean that we find that inferior products make their way into our market and these do not necessarily offer the best value proposition.
We do struggle in the service industries as training in SA is very expensive and many suppliers choose to go the route of basic training versus a process of continuous improvement and development.
Q: Are consumers’ expectations in terms of delivery being met? And if not, why?
Consumers have high demands for delivery of quality products and services. We are a discerning nation that truly understands quality yet this does not necessarily translate into delivery.
The key reason for this outage is that we have been taught not to be complacent, but rather to be very averse to complaining.
We need to develop a culture of demanding better quality goods and services from suppliers to ensure that there is an improvement in the quality of goods and services.
Q: What kind of competitive advantage can businesses gain from focusing on the quality of their products and services?
There is a massive advantage to be gained from a quality-focused business mindset.
Many companies believe that brand-building through marketing activity is the best way to ensure business growth, but many brands are now seeing that reducing quality to boost profits has an adverse impact on the bottom-line.
Focusing on offering great quality at a fair price is the best way to retain consumers in this tough economic climate and ensure that the business is also on a trajectory for long-term success.
Q: What is the right balance between price and quality – what should business owners be focusing on?
There is no specific formula for price vs. quality and each business has to create their own value equation.
The key focus should be on creating an organisational mind-set focused on delivering on the needs of the clients that they serve.
Businesses should focus on innovation because focusing on continuous improvement of the business offering will ensure that they constantly amaze their selected consumer group and build long-term loyalty.
Consumers demand even greater innovation from the brands they know and love. When this innovation is lacking it gives them permission to swap to other companies. A greater focus on quality-focused innovation, with a strong value-proposition, will help brands to stay relevant.