Quality Magazine

Customer Success, Not Satisfaction, Is Key

March 1, 2004
Philip Crosby Associates has reset the bar for executives and quality professionals alike.

WINTER PARK, FL-Philip Crosby Associates (PCA), known worldwide for delivering to millions of top-level executives the revolutionary and uncompromising "Do It Right The First Time" message of quality management guru Philip B. Crosby, has reset the bar for executives and quality professionals alike. PCA declared that a legion of satisfied customers could be an organization's worst enemy.

"We are having a quality crisis in this country because companies are narrowly focused on customer satisfaction," says Wayne Kost, president of PCA. "It has become imminently clear that pursuing customer satisfaction can be a surefire, direct route to corporate failure."

The announcement includes a fundamental change to the cornerstone of Crosby's teachings, The Absolutes of Quality Management, which have now been revised for the first time since the 1970s. Thousands of companies have embraced the Four Absolutes Crosby defined in his industry-changing book, Quality Is Free; they are posted on assembly line and boardroom walls across America.

The Absolutes as defined by Crosby state:

First Absolute: Quality has to be defined as conformance to requirements, not as "goodness."

Second Absolute: The system for causing quality is prevention, not appraisal.

Third Absolute: The performance standard must be zero defects, not "that's close enough."

Fourth Absolute: The measurement of quality is the price of nonconformance, not indices.

And now the Fifth Absolute: The purpose of quality is to ensure customer success, not customer satisfaction.

"No one is ‘against' quality, yet very few achieve it," says Kost. "We took a hard look at the original Absolutes because we realized that a company could live by them and still fail.

"People can be satisfied with almost anything-happy customers are not necessarily successful customers. If you focus on satisfaction you will have short-term gains, but there is a loss to the customer. Fanatically focusing on customer success is the only way to ensure corporate success. Building an organization that knows how to focus on customer success and make it a repeatable, continuous process is the next decade's primary challenge," says Kost.