Quality assurance — An asset to impress customers

By Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations

This article was published in the April 2019 edition of NTEA News.

Product pricing is just one piece of the customer experience puzzle. Today’s fleet managers are looking beyond lowest cost and focusing on best overall value. Having a low price may get your foot in the door, but the quality of your product, communication and workmanship will forge the long-lasting relationship.

Quality assurance is a program for systematic monitoring and evaluation of various aspects of a project, service or facility to ensure certain standards are met. What does it mean in the work truck industry and for your organization? Credibility. Having tools in place to meet quality standards is essential to any business; however, it’s even more important when working directly with customers.

When fleet managers or spec’ writers understand their internal requirements, they are in a position to lay out the details on truck design. Sometimes, though, there isn’t a meeting of the minds between the spec’ writer and product builder. This is where communication plays a key role with quality assurance. When there is a disconnect, one of the errors a supplier can make is to assume all involved parties are aware. If there are items you, as a supplier, think are insignificant or just outright incorrect, it’s imperative to communicate. This puts your company in a highly positive position by either helping save customers money or demonstrating interest in their needs.

Falling through the cracks
Almost every business has had something fall through the cracks, and it’s normally not the big things. However, small details can turn a positive experience into a negative. Quality has continued to improve over the years, but it’s important to take note of the minor issues that are sometimes left behind.

Delivery timing and schedules are often a frustration with purchasers. Much like how your company relies on timely delivery of components and materials, your customers rely on the on-time delivery of replacement units. Fleet professionals are continually searching for cost-reduction opportunities, and in some cases, look at the incremental cost of non-essential maintenance of vehicles scheduled to be decommissioned. A late delivery may force a fleet manager to take on a costly repair or unplanned maintenance.

Another fleet concern is accessory component selection. This can be as simple as substituting a small component like a strobe light. While it may function the same, many fleets are standardizing replacement components, so finding an irregularity is an added frustration.

Be proactive, not reactive
It’s key to understand the significance of being proactive rather than reactive. Having procedures in place to identify a defect in a finished product is important, but it’s a reactive process that’s time-consuming and can be an unnecessary cost. It may be more efficient to focus on a process-oriented approach rather than a final product-oriented one. Take an active step with product quality from a management position rather than relying on quality from a corrective perspective.

For more fleet information, visit ntea.com/fleetresources.