To retain a strong market position and remain competitive in the current global market, companies find themselves without any option than to integrate the philosophy of total quality management in running their activities today. That is the case with Etisalat Telecommunications Company. It is the case when everyone is striving to be the leading service provider of choice as customers demand quality products and services at all levels. Total quality management has been identified as a critical component in eliminating waste and placing Etisalat Telecommunications Company at a competitive position, a critical element in its continued existence and sustainability.
TQM began in 1970s when Japan had to rebuild its industrial base as a result of WWII. With the help of American consultants Edward Deming and Joseph Juran, Japan began making quality as a competitive priority. Deming believed that quality is the responsibility of the management, not the worker Juran believed that quality depends on continuous improvement, hands-on anagement, and training. The basic principles upon which it focuses are employee involvement in all aspects of product quality and system running, satisfaction for the customer, and quality evaluations and improvements (Easton, 1993).
TQM also involves benchmarking, mobile phone devices and services offered at the company and the design, and process design of offering mobile phone devices and telecommunication services throught the UAE. The telecommunications company has over time ensured its services target the customer in terms of what defines quality. In that context, the management of the company and the overall organizational structure reflects TQM in service provision.
Therefore a quality management system under the chairmanship of Mohammed K. A. Qamzi was created to oversee the implementation of total quality management as a tool to achieve customer satisfaction, increase the customer base, sustain a strong market position, sustain and increase the level of company profits, improve company image, create a strong good will, and maintain its lead in telecommunications service provisions. Therefore, TQM philosophy was integrated into the organization with different employee responsibilities assigned each business domain to ensure effective TQM implementation in the pursuit of the organization’s vision.
Within Etisalat Telecommunications Company, TQM is characterized by performance, an element that defines mobile device and service quality, innovativeness that characterizes product features, product performance, where it performs without the need for additional repairs and regular maintenance repairs. In addition to that, the product or service is required to fulfill customer needs with a satisfactory level of conformance. Each device is required to be significantly durable for the customer to gain the best out of its usage. It should be easy to use and should be designed to lead the user to on methods of handling it.
The product should further be fulfilling in appearance to the eye of the customer and meet customer perceptions about beauty. Safety is a key element that characterizes Etisalat’s products and services for usage. The product should further be based on string branding, enjoying a good brand name in the market place. That is the case with Etisalat. The company, besides offering telecommunication services that is characterized by quality, it is a marketing platform for mobile phone communication devices such that meet the quality requirements due to the integration and use of TQM as a tool in its product and service provisions (Easton, 1993).
Product quality is approached in different ways. The transcendental approach factors a product’s innate qualities. Innate product qualities largely influence buyer behavior and perceptions about the product. On the other hand, manufacturing based approach is where product quality relies on the ability of manufactures to incorporate elements of quality within a product based on the design features and manufacturing technologies.
In addition to that, the user based approach relies entirely on the opinions of the user and perceived value of the product by the user. Perceived value is a component that influences the buyer buying behavior and product quality. Customers usually hold different views about the quality of a product and other opinions that influences their opinions about the product and their purchasing attitudes. The value based approach is where the product is perceived in terms of the quality inherent in the product, the benefits that can be derived from the product, the cost of the product and the inherent quality in relation to the attached price tag on that product.
This has become a very strong factor in influencing customer buying behavior of various products in the market today. A highly priced product is perceived to be of higher quality and is perceived to come with associated benefits. These TQM factors have seen Etisalat’s telecommunication services experience exponential growth enabling it to reach wider markets spilling its influence to foreign markets like Egypt, Pakistan, etc.
Total Quality Management (TQM) has been widely implemented at the local and global level in the last two decades. These implementations have brought forth both “hard” and “soft” versions of TQM, which could either focus on the systematic measurement and control of the work process or on training, participation and cultural change.
The following discussion takes one through employee responsibilities for quality in their domains. The case discusses quality management department, management responsibilities, human resource management, the sales and marketing department, and the financial department.
Quality management department
To oversee the implementation of total quality management and continuously evaluate overall organizational total quality management performance and implementation, the quality management department was tasked with the sole responsibility of identifying and setting total quality management implementation processes for each employee in their domains, ensure approaches and strategies are set to ensure effective total quality management organization-wise, measure and analyze all total quality implementation within the company, initiate actions to monitor, evaluate, identify quality deviations in each department and recommend corrections necessary for total quality management, assess total quality implementations for each employee domains, and document further requirements to drive the company further in its total quality management endeavors in satisfying customer needs and meeting their expectations(Easton, 1993).
Employees in this department are responsible for setting a total quality improvement corporate culture as a continuous process and ensure strategies are set to integrate all organizational tasks and functions and focus them at customer satisfaction. The responsibility ensures that employees in this department educate other employees appreciate and focus at customer satisfaction, inculcate a culture of competence in all employees, ensure teamwork within the organization, ensure total employee involvement, and drive the organization into achieving its total quality management goal. The goal is to continuously improve customer satisfaction at the lowest cost while maintaining a strong customer base and sustained profits.
Each of these employees ensure the culture of integrity, training, effective communication, and trust are inculcated in overall organizational employees in pursuing organizational leadership in total quality management geared towards customer satisfaction. Each of these measurements and evaluations are done against internationally recognized and established total quality management standards. Among the standards include ISO 9000 and QuEST, among other total quality management standards.
On the other hand, the management at the top of the hierarchy, headed by Mohammed K. A. Qamzi is solely responsible for providing direction in every aspect of quality management and improvement. Leadership gives clear leadership in the pursuit of quality management for all departments of the telecommunications company. Managers under the leadership of Mohammed K. A. Qamzi ensure that policies and procedures are set for pursuing total quality management philosophy at all levels of the telecommunications company (Easton, 1993).
That is achieved through effective communication channels between all departmental managers and the top management, conducting annul and semiannual seminars and meetings to evaluate organizational performance and achievements, and evaluating employee compliance to quality standards and procedures within the organization. This is geared towards ensuring customer satisfaction with the Telecommunications services provider (Franceschini, Galetto & Maisano, 2007).
The management ensures and continuously evaluates and monitors the quality of services and ensures all telecommunications equipments are up and working in meeting customer expectations and needs. Each communications device or equipment must provide quality voice data transmissions and that is ensured by the technical department run by specialized technical personnel. In addition to that, the management ensures all departments coordinate and work collaboratively in achieving the overall goal of total quality management in product and service delivery.
The management continuously plans on the best strategy to achieve higher product success and better service quality across organizational functions. Product success is achieved through reliable mobile devices and service success is achieved through better sound and data quality delivered on the telecommunications equipments. The management organizes all departments in pursuing the common goal focused at customer’s satisfaction, offers appropriate directions in achieving these, and ensures that each department has incorporated control measures to achieve better quality voice services, among others.
Managers continuously endeavor to create consistency of purpose within the organization, design approaches to integrating best practices in service provision, and institute methods that are consistent with modern approaches in inspecting employee compliance to quality standards.
The management ensures that cross functional departments and employees in every department are aware of the quality needs and expectations of the customer, ensures strategies and procedures are put in place to maintain customer loyalty so as not to have them shift to other service providers in the telecommunications field increasing competition and decreasing the company’s customer base. The management under their able leadership ensures innovative skills are created and cultivated into the culture of the organization for quality improvements and implementations. The managers at this level ensure priorities to achieve higher service quality are put in place, and create a sense of participation in the pursuit of the common goal of quality implementations.
Sales and Marketing department
In Etisalat (2010) it is noted that the sales and marketing department consists of marketers whose sole responsibility in quality management largely differentiates the organization from other service providers in the same field. Marketers have the sole responsibility of ensuring mobile devices reach the target population at designate times and meet customer specifications and tastes, and needs.
The marketers and sales representatives play critical roles in ensuring the company image is always good and Telecommunications services offered by the company reflect a good image of the company. Marketers always collect information on competing mobile devices, compare and evaluate the company’s devices and identify features that should be incorporated or innovated in these products to competitively place them in the market and ensure they remain a head of others.
Total quality management is a philosophy that focuses on continuous improvements, customer satisfaction, and higher profits. The telecommunications company has been tagged as one of the leading service providers in the UAE and the world. Therefore, achieving that goal has been through continuous telecommunications services improvements to meet customer needs.
Marketers are assigned the responsibility of conducting regular surveys specific to each demographic group to identify needs and tastes of each class of customers and present their findings to the management and the quality department to identify the best improvements that is incorporated in moving the company to better performance levels. The marketing department ensures that pricing mechanisms pace the company at a competitive edge with other service providers in the same field, while emphasizing on broadband and other digital media opportunities.
The marketers ensure service characteristics targeting the customer are incorporated into its services delivery. In addition to that, the marketers always endeavor to establish the potential of earning profits for data communication services and mobile phone devices. They accurately predict demands in the market and identify strategic needs targeting the market that has been identified. Customer availability and the bandwidth for data communication are accurately identified by the marketing department to ensure the right customer needs are met. That ensures sustained retention of customers translating to higher profits and a strong customer base (Etisalat, 2010).
Customer needs are continuously reviewed and services provided compared against customer needs and equipments and projected needs evaluated. In addition to that, the marketers establish a strong and reliable interface with customers to enhance customer relationships and communication. This leads to higher product and service quality.
Kossoff (1993) argues that to further improve quality service delivery in the telecommunications company, value addition services are offered frequently such as free messaging systems. Customers occasionally enjoy free message texting services within the telecommunications company’s network. The value addition service translates to quality improvement as an alternative service to voice data communication, making the services cheaper and reliable.
The marketers focus on shortening the time data communication services and upgrade and maintenance take place within the system. They ensure simplicity of use of the service particularly the IP telephony services within the company’s network (Kossoff, 1993).
The quality of services is further improved as a strategic objective by identifying opportunities to reduce expenditure, using the most minimal capital investment by using other technologies that are cheaper to maintain.
The marketing segments are identified by organizational employees at Etisalat to be contributing factors towards better quality and improved service quality. New facilities are created and integrated into the system as the customer base continues to increase at an exponential rate (Juran, 1988).
Human resource department
The human resource management department is an employee section that forms the backbone of efficiency of service provision at all levels in the telecommunications company. Employees in this department are entitled with the responsibilities of ensuring that employees recruited into the company possess the right and appropriate skills to contribute to Etisalat’s success in service provision while focusing at customer satisfaction and company profits. Etisalat is a company that has experiences tremendous growth in the telecommunications sector, making it traverses national boundaries and venture into other opportunity ridden countries in the same field (Feigenbaum, 1991).
Well skilled and educated employees know their responsibilities well and contribute positively and in an informed way to the success of Etisalat in its mobile service provisions. Skilled and experienced employees easily identify areas of improvements and own the quality improvement process to better provide desirable services to the telecommunications sector.
The human resource department employees continuously ensure recruitments foe new employees meet the quality criteria and recruitment procedures adhere to established standards to ensure quality personnel are recruited into the company. They ensure these new employees will contribute positively and create a positive image while improving at every point the quality of service offered and the image of the company (Feigenbaum, 1991).
These employees ensure they continuously identify training and development needs for employees in each department and innovatively look for ways to incorporate training programs to improve their training needs that target quality improvement and management at all levels of employee and management productivity. Quality improvement goes hand in hand with quality demands and training needs (Franceschini, Galetto & Maisano, 2007).
The financial department
Employees in this department keenly monitor the financial performance of the company, identify the best and cost effective performance strategies and target at continuously identifying the best methods to reduce expenditure at all levels of the company. Total quality management is a philosophy that focuses on cost as a function of profits and customer base. Employees in this department continuously strive identify cost effective methods and technologies of delivering services to the customer, data packaging approaches, and appropriate quality costs (Etisalat, 2010).
Departmental employees take the responsibility of ensuring capital investments and other investments are cost effective and the best returns on investments are designed not to increase the cost of calls and other data service within the company. Thus, the company always maintains a sound financial base, an element that has been is evident in the financial statements of the company.
Based on above discussions and findings on Etisalat and its approach to Total Quality management (TQM), it may be recommended that employee participation in the quality of services provided at Etisalat be reviewed and a radical shift in the approach to TQM within Etisalat be embraced. Specific tools and training programs be integrated in TQM of the Etisalat firm to propel it to greater heights in improving on its customer base and revenue generation.
Time wasted in attending to customer complaints is minimized by integrating all issues related to TQM in service provisions. In addition to that, the hierarchical structure of the organization’s management should be flattened and communication enhanced to ensure quick customer and employee interactions. Total quality management is philosophy that spans different organizations whether these organizations are large or small. It is the way organizations are going to maintain their strong market positions while focusing at customer satisfaction and needs at reduced costs.
In addition to that, each department needs to identify the synergy that results when different departments incorporate their activities and pursue them as a team.
This study offers strong evidence of continued significance of quality management as a priority issue for many countries to remain competitive in domestic and global markets. The results of this research indicate that quality management practices have been well embedded in the managerial practices of Etisalat, but need to be improved further to reflect employee efficiency and service quality. In addition to that, total quality management is an organization-wise philosophy that should be incorporated in a synergetic model across functional departments to achieve even better results.