ISO 9001 8.2.1 Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is important in the ISO 9001 process based quality standard. The standard recognizes that although processes underpin a healthy organization, meeting customer requirements is fundamental to its success. (See ISO 10004: Measuring Customer Satisfaction)
In fact, customer satisfaction is now regarded by many organizations as a key indicator of corporate health, and a correlation has been found between high levels of customer satisfaction and high levels of customer loyalty, which in turn lead to increased levels of profitability.
When considered over a lifetime of transactions, the value of a single loyal customer is far greater than that of any transient customer. In addition, a loyal customer is more likely to buy related products and services, recommend the organization to prospective customers, be more pleasant to deal with and more forgiving when problems arise. To compound the matter further, the American Consumer Association stated that it was five times more expensive to win a new customer than to keep an existing one. All things considered, the impact of customer retention, and ultimately customer satisfaction, on company profits cannot be ignored.
To improve customer satisfaction, measurement is required, starting with gap analysis. By asking customers to score product and service quality by importance and satisfaction, customers’ priorities for improvement (PFI’s) can be identified. This is key to the ISO standard, as what the customer actually wants may not be what the organization thought they wanted, or indeed what the organization has been offering its customers. Once it is clear what the customers’ requirements are, standards for customer satisfaction can be set and continually monitored.
Customer satisfaction surveys offer a straightforward method of identifying customer requirements and measuring customer satisfaction against standards. Using survey software surveys can be conducted by email or company web site very cost effectively – even free! By their nature self-completion questionnaires preclude interviewer bias, they are also non-intrusive for the respondent, can be completed anonymously and can be reissued on a regular basis to measure continual improvement.
When setting out the questions for the survey, it is important to take a look at the organization from the perspective of the customer. Drawing up appropriate questions may require a staff brainstorming session or better still, asking customers for their input. It is not just the quality of the product that should be probed, but also how well it is delivered, what happens after the sale and how customers interact with the organization.
ISO/TS 10004:2012 helps an organization to define and implement processes to monitor and measure customer satisfaction.
ISO/TS 10004:2012 can be used by any organizations no matter what type, size or product. The focus is on customers outside of the organization.
It is a guidance standard – so you do NOT certify to it.
Hot Tip: Employee Suggestions and the ISO 9000 QMS
Many organizations have employee suggestion programs in place in the organization, and they can be used to add value to your QMS.
Your organization is required to show continual improvement to your QMS, the source of these improvements may be data from the audits, corrective and preventive action and other performance data. But some of that data will only help you bring the QMS back into compliance after showing a non-compliance; not true improvement. To get the most improvement you need to tap all sources of information, and what better source than those who are performing the processes?
Use your Employee Suggestion program to identify opportunities for improvements. Many companies have excellent programs for employee suggestions where tremendous opportunities for improvement are identified. Be sure to make use of this important source of information.