As the global market continues to diversify the way companies including service companies do business, more and more companies will work to create their own "unique" marketing concepts, those that are customer driven and provide high value.
According to many, implementing quality initiatives or programs like Total Quality Management or TWM are exceedingly difficult. One reason for this is the politics behind how governments work; often practices used to ensure quality go against the traditional methods or systems used by a public agency to operate successfully (Bacal, 2007). To overcome these obstacles, so the public is served in the best way possible, it is critical governments identify internal obstacles to their success, and then devise quality programs that are easily integrated into pre-existing systems within public entities (John, 2003). One such example is the federal government, which influences much local, state, regional and national governments. Because the role of the federal government is ultimately to provide for the people, it is critical customer satisfaction is realized within this agency, among the government's internal and its external customers (John, 2003). Internal customers include those working directly for or with the government, and external customers include the people affected by decisions made by the government and other top-level officials.
Bacal (2007) suggests there are several ways leaders within government agencies can ensure all procedures and services are customer driven. The author suggests 7 basic principles for success, that can be used individually or congruently to help a public agency succeed in TQM. What are these "rules" as described by Bacal? They include: (1) ensure communication happens frequently when new initiatives are announced, especially when they involve politics; (2) leaders must help reduce anxiety associated with change and communicate as much as they know about change or quality measures to any person or agent involved with the organization; (3) leaders have a purpose, which includes reassuring customers including their internal employees that the goal of TQM measures include positive exchanges; (4) executives must be proactive at all levels of the organization, and communicate all initiatives with grace and confidence; (5) leaders must learn to listen carefully to suggestions offered by employees so they are capable of understanding new initiatives; (6) leaders and other members including employees working in the public sector must remain positive and "focus on positive outcomes" no matter the situation being dealt with; (7) lastly, it is critical all members of the organization, no matter their position, learn how to communicate, or the art and skill of communication, and then commit themselves to continuously learning about the policies, procedures and principles related to TQM put into place so they can remain positive.
While at first the public sector's view on TQM seems cumbersome, realistically most entities, including product or manufacturing, service and public entities, share common insights when the topic of total quality management is approached. These similarities or a comparison of quality initiatives are provided in Table 1.1.
Table 1.1 Keys to Success in TQM
Commitment to customer-driven services that follow national and international standards, enabling an organization to stand apart from the crowd. Interest in focusing on customers served, including internal and external.
Customer-driven services that cater to the needs of a diverse client base will make or break an organization in this industry.
A principles key to successful implementation of initiatives. Initiatives must focus on the people the government serves including internal and external customers.
Often manufacturing companies follow similar policies with regard to product standards on creation and distribution whether locally or internationally.
In the service industry, most providers face much in the way of competition; therefore, to capture the attention of probably customers, the company must discover the "unique" needs of its client.
While many associate government procedures as stringent and unforgiving, it is not impossible to cut through red tape to deliver optimal quality services internally and externally.
Bacal, R. (2007), Where TQM & Politics Clash: An article for Government
Staff. Bacal & Associates Business & Management, Retrieved October 28, 2007: http://www.work911.com/articles/tqm3.htm
John, J. (2003), Fundamentals of customer-focused management: Competing through service. Westport: Praeger.
Lending Tree LLC, (2007), What is Lending Tree? Lending Tree LLC, Retrieved October