TQM Won't Work in the Services ........ Or Will It?


McDermott C.Q.E., Robin   (1991, ASQC)   Resource Engineering, Inc., Willington, CT

Annual Quality Congress, Milwaukee WI    Vol. 45    No. 0
QICID: 9674    May 1991    pp. 393-398
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Article Abstract

This paper highlights the similarities and differences between manufacturing and service organizations as they implement TQM. Each requires a different approach, especially in the area of training.

The author identifies major differences between manufacturing and the service organizations in the areas of:

  1. measurements and data collection;
  2. the concept of a process;
  3. customer's specifications; and
  4. nature of the transaction.
In service organizations, it is difficult to measure quality in terms of output, and employees may feel threatened if measurements are used to evaluate their productivity level. Also, determining the root cause of problems is more difficult because service functions are people-oriented. Customer specifications and customer satisfaction in service organizations are not spelled out as they are in manufacturing; service customers have no tolerance for process variation. Because the nature of transactions in service organizations involves more direct customer contact at the lowest levels in the organization, even small improvements can have enormous impact in the customer's perception of service quality.

Quality training programs in manufacturing generally begin with Statistical Process Control (SPC); however, the most appropriate training for service organizations involves learning to work as a team and learning to apply basic problem-solving skills.


Continuous improvement (CI),Empowerment,Human resources (HR),Manufacturing,Service sector,Total Quality Management (TQM)

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