Defining Quality - The Consumer Quality Threshold

Article

Curtis, Lorraine   (1997, ASQ)   RJ Reynolds, Winston-Salem, NC

Annual Quality Congress, Orlando, FL    Vol. 51    No. 0
QICID: 10653    May 1997    pp. 1026-1031
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Article Abstract

Visual impressions of product characteristics by customers provide data for quality improvement. Customers define quality through the Consumer Quality Threshold (CQT) test, which presents them with variations of a product that differ in the degree of a potentially bothersome attribute. Upon visual examination of these randomly ordered variations, each customer is asked: to rate the bothersomeness of each exhibit; whether he or she would purchase or use the product; and whether the level of bothersomeness would lead to brand switching. Steps in preparation of the CQT include: identification of attributes commonly linked to negative visual cues; determining the range of the variations, perhaps including one variation with no aberration, one with a totally unacceptable variation, and variations between the two extremes; quantification of the attribute conditions and development of measurement techniques; fabrication of the exhibits; and running of the test. In initial runs of the CQT, the question about brand switching produced problems. These were resolved by telling customers that they should imagine that the aberration would occur only occasionally, and by telling management that the brand-switching response was more an indicator of attribute priority than of customer loss. Test logistics differed from country to country. In the United States, testing usually has been run at a central site. In other countries, testing has been done at public gathering places and in mobile units.

Keywords

Customer satisfaction (CS),Design,Testing,Product quality,Quality improvement (QI),Product development


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