Published: March 24, 2021 – Author: Brent LaRoche

We’re living in a new world of instant customer service. Improvements to processes and customer experiences are now the domain of technology like Intelligent Automation (IA) and artificial intelligence (AI), but they used to belong to a company’s quality team. As a result, it’s only natural for today’s quality teams to wonder where they now fit into their organizations. 

Quality 4.0 is the new standard for quality teams in today’s organizations, and it calls for reimagining their roles to involve IA and AI. Let’s take a look at what Quality 4.0 means, and how it’s changing the role of quality teams.

What does ‘Quality 4.0’ mean?

We’ve got a bit of catching up to do. Quality 4.0 refers to the fourth major evolution in humanity’s ability to create organizational excellence. It coincides with the fourth industrial revolution (or as some call it, ‘Industry 4.0’), the age of internet technologies and machine learning, which has been ongoing since around 1995. 

In the fourth industrial revolution, opportunities for quality within organizations have increased so much that it’s time for Quality 4.0. These new opportunities for added quality cover everything from individual processes, to decision points, to identifying defects. When applied to binary or rules-based processes, automation makes ensuring quality easier than ever. 

What is the role of quality teams in Quality 4.0?

Despite all its power and intelligence, automation still can’t do everything. When it comes to quality, after all, you shouldn’t ‘set it and forget it.’ For compliance and safety reasons, it’s often important to keep people in the loop, and most automated systems require human monitoring. 

Even with automation, decision-making is firmly in the quality team’s arena. It’s up to quality teams to decide whether people or automations should be given each decision-based task. It may sound funny to think quality teams are ‘deciding who decides,’ but it’s serious business. Quality depends on people and automations making rapid decisions efficiently, and with no variation. 

How does Quality 4.0 impact customer experience?

Quality 4.0 connects people with technology such as IA and AI. These technologies are taking over repetitive tasks, so people have more time to focus on creative work. The role of quality teams in Quality 4.0 is to quickly identify where automation is most appropriate, and where human creativity is required. 

In deciding which tasks are suited for automation and which are best for people, quality teams need to consider associate and customer experience. These are not separate considerations; happier associates lead to more satisfied customers. 

By deploying automation to improve processes and alleviate tasks, quality teams can help associates focus on more meaningful work that leads to better customer outcomes. In Quality 4.0, the quality team is also a functional unit of the customer service department, as they bring together people and technology to improve customer experiences.