Many people confuse functionality with quality (discussed next). But functionality
involves the activities the product or service is intended to perform, thereby providing
the benefi ts to the customer. A contemporary example is the ubiquitous “cell
phone.” These days it is probably rare to fi nd a cell phone which is only a phone;
many phones include a camera and a way to send its picture to another person, or
provide access to the internet, as well as a myriad of other functions.
However, many products, especially electronics, but also some services, may be
advertised to provide purchasers with a new, unique function and they may do so,
but it may not work well, or for long. The former involves performance and the latter
has to do with reliability. Clearly, these are different attributes of the output, and one
can be well addressed while other attributes disappoint. Our discussion of quality,
next, elaborates a bit more on the distinction between these attributes.
Quality is a relative term, meaning different things to different people at different
times. Moreover, quality is not an absolute but, rather, is based on customers’ perceptions.
Customers’ impressions can be infl uenced by a number of factors, including
brand loyalty and an organization’s reputation.
Richard J. Schonberger has compiled a list of multiple quality dimensions that customers
often associate with products and services:
1. Conformance to specifi cations. Conformance to specifi cations is the
extent to which the actual product matches the design specifi cations, such as
a pizza delivery shop that consistently meets its advertised delivery time of
2. Performance. Customers frequently equate the quality of products and
services with their performance. (Note, however, that this dimension may in
some cases actually refer to functionality.) Examples of performance include
how quickly a sports car accelerates or the battery life of...