It's a pretty rare company these days that doesn't have some sort of quality assurance policy or procedure set. Focusing on quality assurance first might actually give your competitors an edge, however, because another element--craftsmanship--is even more foundational to business success.
Aren't Quality and Craftsmanship the Same Thing?
Quality refers to how good or bad something is. The trouble is, "good" and "bad" are subjective terms, based on whatever standard you use for comparison. For instance, if a balloon company tells its employees to rate the balloons as high quality if no more than 50% break during a stretch test, then the employees use 50% as their comparative benchmark. If an employee from a second balloon company is used to a 10% standard, however, then that employee likely would be horrified to see what the first company takes as acceptable.
By contrast, craftsmanship refers to having a high level of skill, passion and experience in a given area. It's often connected to artistry. By this definition, it is extremely difficult to make something of high quality if you don't care about what you do, lack training and haven't been in your industry long enough to figure out through trial and error what the best materials and processes are. Put another way, quality is simply a measurable metric, whereas craftsmanship involves unquantifiable values of emotion, data access and ability.
In fact, Nicholas Webb defines craftsmanship as being "about quality that is connected to what a customer feels", saying that it is "about creating value for customers that elicits a visceral response above and beyond the mere function of a product or service".
How Craftsmanship Connects to Customers and Influences Business
Following Webb's thoughts, from the psychological perspective, craftsmanship is the heart of emotional branding, a method of marketing that taps into the scientific fact that the brain responds to feeling faster than to rationality. If craftsmanship is absent and a company focuses only on quality assurance, they aren't necessarily in touch with what the customer wants, let alone with the "why" behind the customer's desires (for example, an inferiority or competitive complex that drives an individual to keep up with the Joneses, or wanting to negate the feeling of sadness experienced from a bad day).
Subsequently, members of target markets become dissatisfied, and it's significantly harder to convince individuals to buy. In the long term, businesses end up sacrificing customer loyalty, referrals and the bottom line.
Putting Craftsmanship First
Having a quality assurance policy or practice lets your business create products or services according to a given standard, but it doesn't automatically mean that those products or services will have a value to your target customers. Value comes from being able to get potential buyers to feel and have their deeper psychological needs met.
Craftsmanship is the best way to do this, resulting in what your customers will see as exceptional quality by default. If you want your business to rise above the rest, focus on ensuring your employees not only know your customers, but have the drive and skills necessary to respond to them.