Quality quotient: Do it right when no one is looking

Reylito A.H. Elbo

Reylito A.H. Elbo

TWO friends are drinking at a beer garden after a hard day’s work. “I got my wife a diamond ring for her birthday,” says one guy. “Didn’t you tell me she wanted a sports utility vehicle?” asks his pal. “Yeah, but I couldn’t find a fake Toyota RAV4.”

There comes a time in the life of a man when duty calls for him to please his spouse on her birthday. I’m telling you this because it’s my wife’s birthday this week, and I’m agonizing over what to buy for her this time. After all, she doesn’t like material things, well at least according to my only daughter. But that’s a lie. The truth of the matter is—she controls my bank accounts.

Anyway, I couldn’t help but think of things to make her happy aside from the quality time that I’m giving her and the family. And so on. “There are thousands of equally attractive ways on how to materially please your wife,” says my nosy neighbor.

As usual, I have to ignore him. It’s my money anyway, and for me, the best material gift for my wife is a book. Not any book, but the one that you can buy from a second-hand bookstore. I immediately called Book Worm and spoke to one of the people who were manning the telephone.

“What are the new, second-hand books that you got there?” I asked. The clerk was confused, but sounded like a lawyer cross-examining a witness: “Could you kindly specify? What title? What classification?”

In the interest of broadening his clerical perspective, I said: “Humor. Do you have anything about humor?” He thought I was telling him a joke that he laughed hard enough until I decided to put the phone down. I want to stress that I do not want to prolong talking to an idiot.

After that, I went to the nearest Book Worm branch, one of those that claim to “make reading affordable.” But no, I went to the shopping mall for sound journalistic reasons. After all, the malls happen to be a hotbed for many of us who want to get the real story, even though I knew I was running the risk of being mistakenly offered special parking for the physically disabled.

I definitely recommend the malls for anybody over 60 years old who enjoys passing the time while walking to lose a few pounds, if not exercise noisy joints. It’s one enjoyable physical activity, even if I hate encountering people who don’t know how to ride the escalator.

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on the quirky character of some people hogging both sides of the escalator. I want to buy a secondhand book for my wife, and I’m not here to compare the Filipino with a typical Japanese national who is always conscious of the practice of staying on one side of the escalator to give way to others.

That’s quality quotient. You have it when you anticipate and read the body language of people as you try to meet their non-verbal expectations. I got the term from Rene Domingo, who wrote the book “Quality Means Survival” (1997). Professor Domingo, who teaches a TQM course at the Asian Institute of Management says: “Rather than I.Q., we should be measuring Q.Q. (quality quotient).”

Q.Q. is the ultimate approach to customer satisfaction. If you and your organization don’t have it, then prepare for bankruptcy. The issue is relevant because the Christmas season is coming. You want customers to patronize your products or services, the theory being that if people are ready to spend their bonuses, you want them to come to your store.

But the real truth is that the average customer is demanding, which means he wants to buy a quality product at the lowest price possible, if not for free. So if you succumb to a demanding customer, there would be hardly any profit for you.

Of course, it’s difficult to have a business like that. As business people, we have to ask ourselves— what if the customer is right and you don’t know how to please him. My point is that quality quotient involves answering many complex questions. If you’re in management, you owe it to yourself to seek questions to determine your Q.Q. and give them some serious thought.

OK, now, you go first.

Rey Elbo is a business consultant on human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to elbonomics@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random thoughts.


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  1. i sometimes pity those sales assistants who are always following me trying to be nice and cordial asking me what i particularly want, i thank them for that, but they should not be over my shoulder every time i pick something of interest. i feel like i am being guarded, like i am going to tucked it in my low waist jeans. i often tell them i will be calling on them as soon as i have an item i decided to buy but i only illicit more lingering looks. i hope this will come to the notice of store managers, quality qoutient on service.

  2. I know i didnt address the point & i wont as im terrible at picking presents, & i do agree with apostate aswe need to appreciate our wives more as if they do die before us, well i dont want to even think about it. Good luck apostate but try not to beat yourself up to much as its to late now. Try to think like the edith piaf song, no regrets. If youve never heard it listen to it, its both in english & french & both are heart renderingly sad. It always brings tears to my eyes when i listen to it.

  3. I remember a few years ago here in the mall i was looking at clothing that cost over P1,000 per item. I loved them & i asked the assistant how much discount i would get if i bought 10 items. Not a single centavo. Thank you i said & left the store.
    Some years ago in the uk i took my mother to a local small shop selling electrical items. We looked around & my mother told me the things she liked, i think it was 3 items. I asked the assistant how much discount she would give me if i bought all 3 items. She said i cant give you discount, who can, i asked. The manager came over & on asking the same question without any hesitation she said 10%. I bought those 3 items & both shop keeper & customer were happy. Here in the philippines they dont understand that concept.
    My friend bought a vehicle for just over P2 million pesos & it was near xmas. Just after finalising the deal & signing everything the sales lady asked him for her xmas present. My friend went ballistic & told her in his country ( holland ) the sales lady would have bought him a xmas present from her commission.
    Its 2 completely different attitudes from the west to here in the philippines.

  4. You must look after your better half. My wife (of 31 years) died of cancer last year. I wish I had been a better husband, now only regrets that I did not appreciate her more while she was here.