NB: Throughout text, Product = Both Product/Service.
Using the correct Tools (resources: raw materials, machinery, time and people) in the right way so that they are converted to the required outputs. It is in the process that quality is made or broken.
The minimal that quality must entail is "Fitness for purpose" (Juran). This is also defined in the Consumer goods and Services Act 1974; (DTI) ".
• Goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality, and fit for any purpose which the consumer makes known to the seller. .
• Goods are of satisfactory quality if they reach the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the price and any description.
• Aspects of quality include fitness for purpose, freedom from minor defects, appearance and finish, durability and safety.
• It is the seller, not the manufacturer, who is responsible under the Act.".
Without a business adhering to this, the customer can return the product. A business should obviously be aiming to go beyond this and exceed customer's requirements and expectations.
Beyond this there are also the Customers individual Perceptions of the product - their perceived quality and its related perceived value which comes about from branding and their personal views. "Extra" services such as friendly and knowledgeable staff, "after sales"/ maintenance also enhance the quality of a product.
A.V. Feigenbaum (founder of Total Quality Control) believes quality is "what the customer says it is" - not the company. Also, that this involves all parts of the business - i.e. quality of the way information is presented in promotional literature, is the product designed with the customer in mind (not just user-friendly but also meets their requirements), does the products packaging reach the customer in good condition. His ideas, such as statistical methods, can be acted upon so that quality is met.