The quality of a brand is determined by the satisfaction of target customers. Quality is an external determinant, and can't actually be determined by the brand itself. As a result, brands need to find the needs of their customers, satiate their expectations and provide a solution in the most skillful, effective way. While levels and expectations of quality may differ by brand and product, it's important to first grasp the nature of brand quality.
Brand Quality is the perceived ranking of a brand in the mind of their customers. Essentially, brand quality is determined by how well a brand meets the expectations of their customers. This means that brand quality - like brand positioning - is not physically quantifiable, but exists in the mind of consumers. The trust achieved by brand quality is then built up through consistently exceeding the needs and wants of the customers.
Brand Quality can measured by two criteria: Product-based quality and Service-based quality. Product-based criteria focus on the aspects of a product-based brand, while Service-based criteria target both service-based brands and the efforts of staff behind product based brands. Let's take a look at how each criterion are measured.
Performance - How well does the product perform? How easily does the product address the customer's problem or need?
Features - What is the range of functions the product can perform? Does the product offer additional features to accompany the main function?
Reliability - How dependable is the product? Does the product consistently satisfy the customer needs? Of the entire product batch, how many of the products have met customer expectations?
Durability - How long will the product last? How resistant is the product to wear through use? Does the product have a diminishing return overtime?
Competence - How helpful are the providers in relation to their offering? How well-versed are the staff in company and industry knowledge?
Responsiveness - How long does it take before a staff member will respond to an inquiry? How long does it take for the provider to completely resolve an issue?
Empathy - How understanding is the provider of a problem or concern? Does the provider use a friendly and welcoming voice? Are the brand ambassadors easy to communicate with?
Flexibility - How willing is the provider to compensate you for a company conflict? Can the provider use their judgement for exceptions on a case by case basis?
For Service-based brands you may consider creating a service level agreement. We touched on Service Level Agreements (SLA) earlier in our blog on Brand Integrity. Think of SLA's as a brand's declaration of their dedication to quality. Your service level agreement is the standard in which your product or service are measured against, and proves whether or not you deliver the level of excellence you promise to provide. Service Level Agreements can act as a safety net for brands, by covering what your customers should expect from you before hand.
There is no set route to achieving high quality for your customers, and often the approach must be adapted to suit the customer base. Being flexible in your approach to quality will allow your brand to meet the highest expectation for each customer. However, your approach will often be upgraded over the years, as technological advances, new trends and variations in industry developments will shape customer expectations.