QUALITY IMPROVEMENT - SERVICE DELIVERY
Category : Employee Empowerment, Quality Improvement
SERVICE DELIVERY AND QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
One of the most important things to consider in being competitive in the marketplace is having quality service or product delivery. It is noted that having a systematic product and service delivery enables an organization to achieve customer satisfaction. Further, ensuring quality products and services may help the company to be recognized in this arena. The main goal of this paper is to discuss in details the delivery of services offered in package delivery industry. In addition, this will also discuss the efficiency and effectiveness of the activities which make up the process. It will also provide some recommendations in order to improve the quality of the service and product to be delivered.
The Concept of Quality Improvement
The concept of quality with respect
to customer satisfaction has been with us since the beginning. However; the
formal study of quality is relatively new, dating back to early part of the
twentieth century. Over the years, we have seen a variety of definitions for
quality. These definitions have ranged in length from a few words to
comprehensive discussions. Here are some definitions proposed for
"quality" by authorities.
Quality is a physical or nonphysical characteristic that constitutes the basic nature of a thing or is one of its distinguishing features, Webster's New World Dictionary. Quality, as applied to the products turned out by industry, means the characteristic or group or combination of characteristics which distinguishes one article from another, or goods of one manufacturer from those of his competitors, or one grade for product from a certain factory from another grade turned out by the same factory (1992). There are two common aspects of quality; one of these has to do with the consideration of the quality of a thing as an objective reality independent of the existence of man. The other has to do with what people think, feel, or sense as a result of the objective reality; this subjective side of quality is closely linked to value (1980).
Hence, the challenge for the service sector is to develop ways of addressing the ‘quality problem’ which are appropriate to the needs of a sector whose principal asset is people and where the application of the skills and knowledge of those people it employs is the key differentiator between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ service. Quality has become a central issue in the business community. Most companies of any size now have quality improvement processes. Quality improvement means doing things in order to enhance the way the product or service of an industry meets or exceeds the expectation of their target audience. Quality improvement is a systematic approach to the analysis of performance and systematic approaches to improve it.
QI which basically aims in improvement measures where the operations are and identifying ways to make things better. Specifically, it attempts to avoid attributing blame and tries to create systems to prevent possible errors from occurring. Quality Improvement Methods includes qualitative and quantitative techniques, reduction of waste, benchmarking, training, customer focus and empowerment.
FedEx Corporation was established by in 1973 as an entirely new concept in package delivery an overnight air delivery service. FedEx was the pioneer of the express transportation and logistics industry. In addition, FedEx is also regarded as one of the world’s leading transportation companies that focus on the transportation of parcels and packages worldwide. The following are the core, supplementary and facilitating services provided by FedEx:
- Overnight package delivery
- Worldwide express delivery
- Ground small parcel delivery
- Freight delivery, and
- Customs brokerage.
These services are being offered in a quality manner to satisfy their customers. Because FedEx has been able to expand their services internationally, the industry also provides different products and services to their customers in the international market like in Asia-Pacific. The products and services provided by FedEx in Australia and New Zealand include FedEx International Priority (IP), International Priority Freight Services and FedEx Packaging.
· FedEx International Priority (IP)
The FedEx International Priority Service offers a time-definite, door-to-door technology-intensive, customers-cleared delivery of packages, documents and freight all over the world. This offering includes the FedEx International Mail Service which is available for bulk mailings of printed material like direct mail, invoices and catalogues.
The clients of FedEx has the opportunity to choose from different delivery options which include door-to-door delivery using FedEx courier, customs clearance, holding for collection at a FedEx location and delivery through a broker or customer’s agent.
· International Priority Freight Service (IPFS)
The industry is currently operating in five scheduled air services from the United Stated to Sydney every week. The majority of the traffic on these flights is IXP, to ensure a time-definite airport to airport service.
· FedEx Packaging
In this service, the company used sound packaging system to ensure the fast and secured delivery of the shipment of the customers. In this regard, the company are able to develop their own range of ready-to-usee, self-sealing packaging in different shapes and sizes. At the hub, the range of boxes, tubes, envelopes and packs have been created to deliver superior durability and protection at the lowest possible weight.
Service Delivery System of FedEx
FedEx was the pioneer of the express transportation and logistics industry. In addition, FedEx is also regarded as one of the world’s leading transportation companies that focus on the transportation of parcels and packages worldwide. In accordance to the activity around us especially when it comes to the speed and efficiency needed to serve the clients better, FedEx also has improved its performance when it comes to service through continuous changes in its IS and addition of certain programs like tracking lost parcels within thirty minutes which is of good help to clients and the such. This is very important so as to keep the company consistent of being number one on its spot. In this way, it will never fail to attract more clients.
FedEx is committed with their People-Service-Profit philosophy. Herein, the company aims to produce outstanding financial returns by means of providing, competitively superior, totally reliable global air-ground transportation of high priority goods and documents that require rapid, time-certain delivery. The company also aims to provide positive control of each package that will be delivered by using real time electronic tracking and tracing systems. In this manner, a complete record of each shipment and delivery is being presented with the company’s request for payment. The company’s goal is to become helpful, courteous and professional to each other and the public. The vision of the company is to strive efficiently to have a completely satisfied customer every time they avail the services of FedEx.
In order to provide quality service, the company has been able to implement different activities. One of this is their adherence to e-business as one of the effective solutions to address the concept of quality. FedEx employs a variety of Internet-based systems that serve both their needs and the needs of their customers. EC-Inventory, for example, enables different product classifications in selected locations to be tracked and managed and, thereby, can be used to validate orders against inventory levels and to track and trace orders and shipments. EC-Manufacturing provides FedEx customers with a powerful means of monitoring and controlling their inbound supply chain. EC-Return Management provides a useful means for handling returns and repairs, and EC-Warehouse Management provides FedEx customers with tools to improve their inventory and warehouse management. In these ways FedEx extends and adds value to the services they provide for their customers.
The FedEx service begins when a customer calls the nation-wide toll-free customer service number. This can be accessed 24 hours every day of the week. Once the customers requirements have been ascertained by a customer service operator/agent, an instant quote is calculated and, if accepted, a courier is then dispatched to the customers location to pick up the shipment and to provide documentation and packaging (where required) needed for international shipping.
Customers are shown how to fill out an air waybill with all the correct information (including, for example, contact information about the sender and consignee, handling and delivery instructions, shipping information, duties and taxes), and are provided with a wide range of free packaging of different shapes and sizes.
Central to the company's growth and success has been the development of strategic information systems that enable FedEx to provide superior service to its customers. Through its innovative use of technology the company has been able to offer its customers the ability to complete entire shipping transactions from their own desktop personal computers, to call for courier pickups via modem and to track the status of their shipment en route. Almost all of Fed Ex's total volume internationally is processed using an automated shipping system. In this manner, the company has been able to use advanced technology to ensure that they still meet the needs of their customers of fast and quality delivery system. The company has utilised different technology like FedEx's Automated Sorting Tracking Routing Aid (ASTRA), Digitally Assisted Dispatch System (DADS) and COSMOS.
Cause and Effect Diagram
The activities mentioned above, states the service delivery system of FedEx. Although, it can be said that the industry has been able to use an effective and efficient service delivery system, there are still factors to be considered to sustain its efficiency, there is a need for quality improvement to ensure that the company will always adhere on providing quality service among its customers. To improve the quality of the service of FedEx, the management should be able to identify different aspects that affect quality service of package delivery.
Cause and Effect Diagram
The diagram below shows the possible cause of having a delay in package delivery of the company. Herein, the causes are categorized as equipment, personnel, materials, procedures and other aspects which may affect the quality service of the company. Cause and Effect Diagram is used to determine the reasons for poor quality service. In addition, cause and effect diagram can easily show the problems and issues to be addressed to ensure that the company will always provide quality services in terms of package delivery.
Diagram 1: Cause and Effect Diagram
Recommendation; Quality Improvement
Although, it can be said that the industry has been able to use an effective and efficient service delivery system, there are still factors to be considered to sustain its efficiency, there is a need for quality improvement to ensure that the company will always adhere on providing quality service among its customers. As shown in the cause and effect diagram, one of the cause f ineffective delivery of packages is in terms of lack of employee empowerment. To improve the quality of the service of FedEx, it is recommended that the company will use empowerment method for quality improvement.
For employees to be empowered, the company must
for employees to participate both at the shop or office floor and at
higher levels in the organization. In the service industry such as the shipping business, employee empowerment has been associated with many of the key issues related to employment practices in general, namely in gaining competitive advantage through improved service quality. However, the attempt to gain competitive advantage is difficult – because of the difficulties in defining the successful service encounter, particularly in the intangible sources of customer satisfaction. Moreover, there are in fact, some base level customer expectations of employee performance, positive interpersonal contacts, service deliverer attitudes, courtesy and helpfulness that are all closely related to customer evaluations of service quality (1994). Then another problem is in the quality of the service encounter itself.
This involves the performance of the employee, on how the employee work and perform the service that should be given to the customers. (1993) stated that seeming to love the job becomes part of the job; and managing the appropriate feelings of enjoyment of the customer helps the worker in this effort. Enabling employees to sense their own power and the significance of their role in the service drama may help employees manage the emotions required of their performance ( 1993). Thus, it can be said that a respond or action of an employee enhanced by satisfaction can be the basis that the employee will give his or her best to the company. Empowered employees willingly take responsibility for the service encounter, they respond more quickly to customer needs, complaints and changes in customer tastes ( 1991).
People are the cornerstone of the FedEx organization and service. Their importance and value is clearly recognized in the words of :
Federal Express, from its inception, should put people first both because it is right to do so, and because it is good business as well.
All Federal Express managers are expected to scrupulously follow as well as communicate to their people the successful formula inherent in our P-S-P philosophy: Take care of our people; they, in turn, will deliver the impeccable service demanded by our customers, who will reward us with the profitability necessary to secure our future. Among the many means by which FedEx executes its 'people first' philosophy are the following initiatives:
Ø A staffing effectiveness policy which ensures responsible hiring decisions to enable the company to avoid layoffs wherever possible.
Ø Total commitment to affirmative action and equal opportunity principles.
Ø Performance review systems that provide feedback to employees on how they are performing against mutually agreed expectations.
Ø Promotion from within, which gives existing employees the first option on new and additional career opportunities within the organisation.
Ø The open-door policy which encourages employees to direct any question to the appropriate person regardless of their title.
Ø The guaranteed fair treatment procedure by which an employee can appeal any management decision, leading to a review process involving both other managers and the employee's peers.
Ø Reward and recognition programs that encourage and honour exemplary service performance.
Another vital component of P-S-P is the Survey-Feedback-Action (S-F-A) process. Once a year, the company must anonymously surveys all active employees about a range of issues including corporate and local management, work group cooperation, reward systems and job conditions. After company-wide tabulation, the results should be discussed at the workgroup level where solutions are developed to problems identified by the survey. Finally, each manager commits to an action plan to implement the agreed solutions.
The initial training of new customer service personnel, sales representatives and couriers takes several weeks and culminates in written and oral examinations. Successful recruits should be placed on three months' probation before a permanent appointment is made. The training and development of service personnel, however, must be ongoing, in order to ensure that Fed Ex, through its people, remains synonymous with exemplary customer service.
To be able to implement quality improvement approach to FedEx, the company must be able to follow the following Action Plan.
First and foremost the company must know the current situation of the industry. Using quality improvement tools like cause and effect diagram, the problems that hinder quality service can be detected. Hence, it is important that the company must be able to establish an internal marketing research to determine the factors to be changed and how quality improvement would be implemented.
B. Information Dissemination
The management of the company must be able to disseminate the information that the company will imposed some changes to improve the quality of the services offered by the company so that the employees will be aware in the situation.
II. Specific Processes to Successfully Implement the Plan
After the planning phase is over (and agreed), it is a signal of the doing phase begins. Once the activity is in motion, it acquires a direction and momentum which is totally independent of anything that was predicted. The key elements to the control of the changes are the milestones and established means of communication. The milestones are a mechanism to monitor progress; for the team, they are short-term goals which are far more tangible than the distant completion of the entire project. This maintains the momentum and encourages effort for the team; it allows the team to judge their progress and to celebrate achievement throughout the activity rather than just at its end.
III. Dangers in review
There are dangers avoiding this project reviews, it is either too frequent or too drastic
. The lack of sustainability to the project can lead to plan revisions which shake the team's confidence in any particular version destroying the stability of the project designed. Decide objectively, and explain beforehand, when the review phases will occur and make this a scheduled milestone in itself.
Even though the situation may have changed since the last review, it is important to recognize the work which has been accomplished during the provisional. First, the organization do not want to abandon the project since the team will be demotivated feeling that they have achieved nothing. Secondly, this work itself is part of the new situation which has been done, it should provide a foundation for the next step or at least the basis of a lesson well learnt. Existing achievements of team should always be building up.
Time is sometimes one of the problems since there are companies that are demanding for unrealistic time. For this project, realistic schedule viewed by the team should be imposed. Outside world are not allowed to deflect team form what knows to be practical. If the impose a deadline upon which is impossible, the team will clearly state this and give reasons. For this instance, the project teams must determine the most appropriate time to start the implementation of the project; the sooner, the better.
VI. Planning for error
One of the most common errors in planning is that assuming there will be no errors in the implementation which in effect, the schedule is not based on the plan. On the other hand, recognizing that errors will occur is the reason for implementing a monitoring strategy on the project. However, by cautiously considering errors in advance you can make changes to the original plan to enhance its tolerance.
The team that would implement quality project must try to predict where the errors will occur by examining the activities' list. The risky areas might then be given a less strict time-scale - actually planning-in time for the mistakes. Another option is to apply a different strategy, or more resources, to such activities to minimize the disorder in the project.
Although FedEx has been efficient in providing satisfying services for their customers, the company must be able to ensure that they always adhere in providing quality for its customers. In doing so, the company must implement quality improvement process. Herein, the company must choose specific issue to be given emphasis and improve the system attached within such issue.