A quality material, product, process, service or system is one that meets the needs of customers. Today, customers, including consumers, know what they want and can easily recognise 'quality'.
Businesses interact with a variety of customers e.g.
- Internal e.g. staff who have their office cleaned, or use the canteen
- Business e.g. suppliers of raw materials, stationery, transport, telecommunications
- End users e.g. other firms, the government or its agents, or the general public (buyers of goods or services).
Many businesses trade at local, national and international levels. To win customers' confidence, firms need to meet the highest quality standards. Distant and local or national customers want a guarantee of reliable, high quality goods and services.
The British Standards Institution (BSI) provides a range of products and services that assist in assuring high quality. It was the world's first national standards body and is the best known worldwide (as indicated by its official 'Superbrand' status).
There are approximately 20,000 current standards that all capture best practice. They are established by 1,113 different committees of specialist experts who reach a consensus about what should be expected of a particular product, material, service, process or technology in a particular industry - e.g. the structure of a gas pipe, the design of an electrical wiring system. Committee members have a wide range of interests and skills from manufacturers, sellers, research organizations and government departments to campaigners, users and consumers. The standards produced are regularly reviewed to meet the changing demands of society and technology.