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QoS: Quality of Service

By: Dave Brock


We’ve all experienced it, our mobile phone rings, upon answering all we hear is static. We move to another location—in pursuit of the ever elusive bars, usually shouting something like, “Can you hear me now?”

We struggle to hear, we redial several times because the call was dropped. Those around us go through the same thing. For many of us, the day of the crystal clear call, the call that always got through on the first dial, the call that was never dropped are distant memories. We complain, yet we accept it—this must be the price we pay to have this technology.

It’s not limited to mobile phone calls. Finicky cable connections, temperamental Wi-Fi, slow responding apps. We’re constantly subjected to cloud based tools that don’t quite work. Whether it’s A/B testing, prototyping, lean development, we seem to be the victims of declining qualities of service in so many tools. Some suppliers have adopted a policy of having their products constantly in “Beta” as if that were a reasonable rationale for poor quality.

Those of you in the telecommunications segment—at least the old timers—will immediately recognize the term, QoS: Quality of Service. In the old days of land lines, telecommunications providers were very concerned about QoS. Broadly, that meant crystal clear calls, connected 100% of the time and never dropped. When that happened, alarms rang in the control centers of the carriers. People were measured on QoS, contracts were based on QoS. It was important to both the Telcos and customers. Anything short of a perfect experience was considered unacceptable by all.

Over time, that’s eroded. Our expectations have dropped dramatically, we are happy, even ecstatic with service that would have been unacceptable 10 years ago—and I’m not just talking about telephone/mobile service, I’m talking about virtually everything we encounter.

It’s not limited to a particular vendor; we see it all the time. Look at all the major social apps: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, and others. A feature we were using, suddenly disappears, the user interface suddenly changes, a program we had become dependent on suddenly disappears. Performance degrades.

We’re deluged with new offers of products—all Minimum Viable Products. Product testing is done on users, with users debugging faulty code. Many in the App world see apps as basically temporary—we use an App until we find another, then we use that, then we use another.  So why invest in quality, let’s just invest in flashy functions so we can launch a hot product and let our users find the problems.

While we talk a lot about Customer Experience, I seldom hear the concept of Quality of Service.

It’s not just a problem with the developers of these tools or Apps, it’s a problem we create. We think this new environment of everything working—kind of sort of—is what we should expect. We settle for QoS that 10 years ago would have been unacceptable.

But, this article is not about Apps or Technology.

Really, what we settle for in QoS in Apps and Technology, is a reflection of what we settle for in virtually everything else. We have lowered our standards or expectations in virtually everything.

Deep enduring relationships are often displaced by transitory virtual relationships.

Taking the time to understand, diagnose, and solve, is replaced by force fit solutions, half-hearted efforts.

Investing in people, training, coaching and developing them—looking for long term employees is displaced by an attitude of the “disposable employee.” We ramp people up and down like we do parts inventories.

Likewise, for individuals, the commitment to the job/company is only as long as the next better offer comes along. We leap from position to position, never mastering one, never proving ourselves in anything, but bolstering our resumes and padding our salaries. We are committed to ourselves, not our teams, organizations, or communities.

Quality in everything is displaced by quantity/volume/velocity.

We have lowered our expectations of everything and everyone—including our own performances.

QoS is important—not for telecommunications, not for Apps and Technology, but for how we engage each other, how we live our lives, how we build our organizations, and communities.

This article was originally published by Partners in Excellence

Published: September 25, 2014

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Dave Brock

Dave Brock is the founder of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a consulting and services company helping to improve the effectiveness of business professionals with strategy development, organizational planning, and implementation. Dave has spent his career working for and with high performance organizations, ranging from the Fortune 25 to startups, including companies such as IBM, HP, Nokia, AT&T, Microsoft, General Electric, and many, many more. The work Dave does with business strategies is closely tied to personal effectiveness of the people in the organization. As a result, Dave is deeply involved in the development of a number of training and coaching programs.

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