When tendering for public sector contracts, it will quickly become apparent that the quality of your service is almost always worth more than your price.
One of the most common questions you could be asked is how your company ensures quality. The buyer will want to know about how your service meets their requirements and how any issues will be rectified.
To make sure you score high marks on this sort of question, you should always remember the following:
A great way of demonstrating your quality assurance excellence is to become accredited for ISO9001. This accreditation enables you to prove that you have the requisite policies and procedures to satisfy the relevant industry standards for quality.
Don’t panic if you don’t have this or indeed any accreditation however! For smaller companies it can be a stretch both financially and administratively to achieve accreditation. Bids rarely require specific accreditations although they’re still worth pursuing if you can.
If it’s not worth pursuing ISO9001 in your current position, it can still be useful to confirm to the buyer that you follow the standards anyway. This will demonstrate to buyers that you have effective and efficient quality assurance procedures, rather than an ad hoc approach.
A good way of reassuring the buyer that you can guarantee quality service is to include them in the delivery process.
When laying out your quality assurance policy and procedure, you should explain how the buyer has the ability to influence the work they are paying for, giving them ultimate control over delivery.
KPIs (key performance indicators) can be an excellent way of demonstrating this. By agreeing KPIs collaboratively with the buyer, you hand them genuine influence over how the contract will be delivered. This process also allows you to ascertain what their exact expectations are, making them easier to consistently attain. This means that you are both more likely to get the outcomes you are looking for.
Nobody likes to receive complaints. In an ideal world, you will have procedures in place to avoid issues and subsequent complaints as much as possible. It is vital, however, that when complaints do arise, you have the correct procedures in place.
You need to ensure the buyer knows that their feedback will be listened to and acted upon. Having a complaints procedure in place reassures buyers that they retain control over a project at all times. It also reassures them that should they be dissatisfied with your company’s delivery, there is a mechanism for solving conflicts.
You should describe a clear step-by-step complaints handling process. This should include how complaints are received, who will investigate them and time frames for each step. As with the ISO9001, having a set process in place demonstrates that any issues will be dealt with efficiently and effectively.
Monitoring the progress of your project and staff is a useful method for ensuring you are meeting your client’s quality requirements. Buyers will expect to hear about your processes for monitoring service delivery and will be particularly interested in how you share this information with them.
Sharing data with the client offers them increased control over the contract and streamlines the process of identifying and remedying problems. Sharing therefore increases efficiency and quality but also transparency as a result.
Enhanced transparency demonstrates your commitment to building healthy working relationships with your clients. Service quality will again, only benefit as a result.
Put a Name to Your Promises
Whether you’re discussing your customer liaison policy, complaints procedure, or monitoring process, you should always try to name, the person responsible. Where there is action to be taken, try to give a specific time frame. Commit to response times in a precise number of hours, days or weeks.
Providing the buyer with specific names and time frames gives your responses authority. Giving details makes it appear as though you have established policies whether you do or not. Vague promises to deal with issues ‘swiftly’ or ‘as soon as possible’ won’t wash against the more professional procedures of your competitors.
Putting ‘Pen to Paper’
Once you have planned your quality response, it’s time to start writing! Deadlines are always fast approaching and you don’t want to rush your answers at the last minute. If you are struggling with your bid or how to approach specific questions, let us know and we’d be happy to help!
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