Question: Done to help an organization change
My company is a family owned organization run by conventional management techniques, which include visiting the plant everyday and solving problems as they occur. As the technical director, my responsibility, among others, is to maintain product quality. However, I noticed the company had no communication with its customers and could not identify the desired quality of yarns and fabrics in the local market. With management ignoring dealers' complaints, I and my colleagues in the technical department decided to establish a system to gather customer feedback. Our plan ultimately changed our attitude towards quality.
To communicate with our customers, we placed address information forms in every 50kg carton of finished goods and asked the customers to fill out and return them for company calendars and diaries. We collected 267 forms within the first three months and to my surprise found that those 267 processing mills serve 95% of our customers. A number of complaints required as little effort as shifting a lever in the winding machine from one position to another to give a desired winding pattern. We also followed up on the widespread suggestion to replace the paper board carton for packing with jute bags which could be used for other purposes; since jute bags were less expensive, we were happy to follow this advice. Most importantly, we established a mechanism whereby we could immediately and costlessly discover problems with our products.
Management initially regarded my idea as 'western' and ineffective in Bangladesh where customers are perceived as being too concerned with money to answer the questionnaires. While lobbying constantly, I had to wait a month to get the printing and stationary bills cleared. Now, our success is obvious as the attitude towards quality has changed. The biggest beneficiary of the idea is our cigarette plant. They had to do lot more groundwork and spend much more money to set up the system as their customer base is bigger and more diverse. However, it seems the idea is paying off with increased demand and customer loyalty. I look forward to devising more such ideas by leveraging my business education.
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