Customer Satisfaction?

Today I thought we’d give the serious ‘stuff’ a rest and just talk amongst ourselves – maybe with a little tongue in cheek. ‘Tis the Season and all!

Customer Satisfaction… Isn’t that why we do ISO in the first place? We want to produce a good quality product or service that will fulfill our customer’s needs and keep them coming back for more – Right?

customer1Wrong – We’re in business to make money and don’t let anyone tell you differently –Bah Humbug! If we don’t make money,we don’t stay in business. And let’s face it we don’t really care if our customer is happy, we just want them to give us their money.

So we hook up with a Registrar (CB –Certification Body) who will get us going with ISO, so we can advertise to our customer that we really do care about them and we can ‘prove it.’ And, what does the CB do for us? They give us apiece of paper that we can dazzle our customer (or potential customer) with and say, “See – Ain’t we great?”

I’ve often said that, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, no matter how bad your product or service is, you too can get registered. It’s true! First of all, the Registration audit will be the easiest you’ll ever go through. The CB wants you to be registered; the auditor wants you to be registered… it’s their business – that’s what they do and you pay them for the privilege. Do they care about product quality? Nope! Do they even look? Nope! Not unless they suspect false advertising… But if you call it high-priced junk, you’re good to go for a year.

Look at it from the CB’s perspective -They want you to make money. OK, maybe they don’t care if you make money, so long as you keep paying them. Look at it from the auditor’s perspective – All s/he cares about is the free coffee and donuts you bribe them with when they get there, the Pizza and Beer at noon and whether there are records of your returns and maybe a few customer surveys you cherry-picked to show them, someone loves you.

Just think about all the mouths you are feeding: Your scheduler and their family, the auditor, their family and all the businesses they interact with; the rent-a-car company, the hotel, the restaurant, the airlines… Now don’t you feel good about yourself?

But, the bottom line is ISO doesn’t help you make a better product, nor does it help you interact with your customer. Those are things that have to come from the heart. You can’t buy it. If you don’t have it; a desire to ‘do the right thing,’ ISO doesn’t help you at all.

Which, by the way, is the reason those poor souls who bet their last ‘coppers’ on ISO certification, as a last ditch effort to save their businesses, crash and burn. Regrettably, their customers already went somewhere else and that’s why they’re in a pickle in the first place.

So let’s forget all about ISO and focus on our customer… and the business of getting them, keeping them and most of all, keeping them coming back for more.

customer2Product quality is important but even the most demanding customer will forgive the occasional slip up as long as your Customer Service is strong,and there is a belief you will make things right.

And right means prompt replacement or credit no questions asked. The customer is always right – Right! Even when they’re wrong, they’re right!

Customers can be your best friend or your worst enemy. They might be singing your praises, writing you letters of adoration and telling all their friends and relations just how wonderful you, your staff and your products or services are or they may be silently smoldering, vowing never to ‘do that again’ and posting hate mail on social media. Keep an eye on Facebook! And remember, the angry customer is more likely to tell people about their awful experience than a happy customer singing praises.

Your job then is to make sure you understand your customers and make their experience with your company more pleasant than that of your competition if you want to keep them coming back. You will want to train your staff howto do their part to help enhance that customer experience. “So how do I do that?” you ask. Click the “Smile.”

customer3The smile is where you can obtain your free copy of “Service with a Smile,” a Kilpatrick Group e-book, our Christmas present to you with thanks for your loyalty. “Service with a Smile” is a compilation of tips and tricks for dealing with your customers.

It will tell you how to give them the best post possible buying experience and / or resolve problems should they arise.

The Kilpatrick Group would like to thank all those who contributed to this customer service manual.

Until next time friends – Happy Holidays.

Expected Outcomes for Accredited Certification

Expected outcomes for accredited certification to ISO 9001 (from the perspective of the organization’s customers)

“For the defined certification scope, an organization with a certified quality management system consistently provides products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and aims to enhance customer satisfaction.”

Notes: a. Customer requirements for the products and services may either be stated (for example in a contract or an agreed specification) or generally implied (for example in the organization’s promotional material, or by common practice for that economic/industry sector). b. Requirements for the products and services may include requirements for delivery and post-delivery activities.

What Accredited Certification to ISO 9001 Means

To achieve conforming products and services, the accredited certification process is expected to provide confidence that the organization has a quality management system that conforms to the applicable requirements of ISO 9001. In particular, it is to be expected that the organization:

A. has established a quality management system that is suitable for its products, services and processes, and appropriate for its certification scope,

B. analyzes and understands customer needs and expectations, as well as the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements related to its products and services,

C. ensures that product characteristics have been specified in order to meet customer and statutory/regulatory requirements,

D. has determined and is managing the processes needed to achieve the expected outcomes (conforming products and services, as well as enhanced customer satisfaction),

E. has ensured the availability of resources necessary to support the operation and monitoring of these processes,

F. monitors and controls the defined product and service characteristics,

G. aims to prevent nonconformities, and has systematic improvement processes in place to:

  1. Correct any nonconformities that do occur (including product or service nonconformities that are detected after delivery),
  2. Analyze the cause of nonconformities and take corrective action to avoid their recurrence,
  3. Address customer complaints,

H. has implemented an effective internal audit and management review process,

I. is monitoring, measuring and continually improving the effectiveness of its quality management system,

What Accredited Certification to ISO 9001 Does Not Mean

1) It is important to recognize that ISO 9001 defines the requirements for an organization’s quality management system, not for its products and services. Accredited certification to ISO 9001 should provide confidence in the organization’s ability to “consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements”. It does not necessarily ensure that the organization will always achieve 100% product conformity, though this should of course be a permanent goal.

2) ISO 9001 accredited certification does not imply that the organization is providing a superior Product or service, or that the product or service itself is certified as meeting the requirements of an ISO (or any other) standard or specification.

Much Ado About Nothingdownloada1

The above is an ideal, a process, trusted to bring about conditions whereby, through transparency, goods and services are produced to meet customer requirements.But, in the real world, it’s not always the case.

Business is driven by economics, there are priorities, constraints and in some cases,conditions that are prohibitive to accredited certification.

Furthermore, there are those companies, whether intentionally or not, unable to meet the necessary quality requirements, yet, through customer pressure or the belief registration will enhance their bottom line they seek certification.

Guess what? Takata and Deepwater Horizon both held accredited certification (from legitimate registration bodies) and you see what happened to them.

Enter those (who give us all a bad name) promising low-cost certification, even to Standards that don’t exist and even more ludicrous, without any verification of your quality system. Yep – You heard me correctly, NO AUDITS. Registration certificate above is an example. Sadly, a former client of mine! Talk about turning to the Dark Side. Take it one step further, the certification body, above, agreed to certify a bogus company that claimed to produce a negative-buoyancy life jacket (which is intended to sink killing its wearer!)

My former client’s ‘certification’ took place long after we parted ways and unbeknownst to me*. In their defense, there were those ‘prohibitive conditions;’ lack of cash flow and absence of qualified staff to maintain a quality system properly combined with a large customer (in a regulated industry) who mandated a certified system or they would go elsewhere – they took advantage of this low-cost registration scheme, with or without knowledge of its legitimacy.

*Note – I discovered the certificate on-line, years later, while doing unrelated research. At present, I am unaware if this company is still in operation or not and regret being unable to take them to registration with a legitimate CB but suspect this to be a choice of desperation, one of which, most likely, did not ended so well.

Too often, I’ve seen small companies achieve certification only to find out it was a last ditch effort for survival – without the appropriate resources, it never ends well.

In Closing…

Most certified organizations (over 1,000,000 worldwide) are honest and dedicated to product quality and customer satisfaction but there are some dishonest out there. So I guess the message is still ‘buyer beware.’ Do your diligence and check to verify that your prospective or customer’s registrar (CB) is accredited here:

We’ll call this post a public service announcement.

Until next time…