Designers and installers of cabling systems do not manufacture products--they do, however, sell a service. And to succeed in the telecommunications industry, with all of its standards, they must provide and maintain quality on every project. In its network systems integration business, Comlink Inc. (Marlborough, MA) attributes much of its success to the fact that it strives for continuous quality improvement. Some techniques that Comlink has implemented include a quality improvement program, continuous employee training and regularly updated system procedures for planning, implementation, testing and certification.
"We sell who we are and how well we can perform," says Russ Oliver, RCDD, Comlink`s vice president for technical services. "We`ve got to make that better every week, every month, every year." The company`s formal quality process looks at the tools and techniques of how Comlink does installations and how it provides service to its customers.
"We track customer satisfaction," explains Oliver. "We do surveys. We have dispatch capabilities so we can perform service calls in a very short time. And we make sure that the customer is satisfied. How did we do? How could we get better? There`s a constant focus on improving our process. From each project, we learn how to do things more efficiently. And these lessons allow us to give feedback to our design and sales people so that the next project we do is that much better."
Another tool that Comlink uses is its "quality wall," where it publicizes ongoing quality improvement programs. The wall keeps everyone in the company informed about ongoing projects and includes letters from customers who are satisfied with the implementation of their projects. Employees who have received praise from peers or customers are also recognized.
In fact, Comlink gets considerable repeat business because of satisfied customers. "Over the years, we have been able to eliminate waste, streamline our processes and become more competitive," says Oliver, "because we have listened to our employees and customers when they suggested ways to do things better."