Quality meal, quality game, quality coffee, quality service, quality car, quality friendship… What does it all mean? Quality is one of the most over-used words in the English language.

Quality is perceptual, your definition of a quality movie and mine might be totally different.

Every time you use the word quality with an employee, a client, your partner you’re just guessing. Who knows if your interpretation and theirs are aligned? Someone in your team hands you are report and you say “that’s a quality report”. What’s quality about it, the length, the words, data, the paper they used, the font, graphs.

Your website says you deliver a quality customer service. Quality in what? The time it takes to get back to your customers, the tone of voice you use, that you’re there to answer the phone at 6am, the way you listen to their needs?

The definition of quality on Wikipedia is “in business, engineering and manufacturing has a pragmatic interpretation as the non-inferiority or superiority of something; it is also defined as fitness for purpose. Quality is a perceptual, conditional, and somewhat subjective attribute and may be understood differently by different people”. Quality is also defined in industry by certification, standards, measures, ISO, a tick.

It’s much simpler than this.

Quality is consistently meeting the agreed the specification.

It’s understanding what this means between you and the receiver of the product or service that is key. If we break this down…

Consistency – every time, every interaction, every service or product?

Agreed – Both supplier and the customer (internal / external) have clarity on the specification and agree on the ability to meet the specification.

Specification – quantitative and qualitative, may be written, verbal, what level of variation is ok, how specific or fine is it?

There are some cafes I return to, cause I know the coffee consistently meets the specification, restaurants that I regularly go to, as they consistently deliver every time, every meal, every service.

Does the service you provide your clients (internal & external) meet their perception of quality every time? Have you defined it? The first step is to have the conversation, get clarity on the specification, your ability to deliver it and agree on it.