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Understanding ISO 9001:2015

8.2.1 Customer communication  

Before you get into this clause please reread: 

·    Clause 7.4 communications which deals with general requirements for external and internal communications; and  

·    Clause 5.1.2 customer focus - which deals with internal communications of customer requirements and expectations throughout the organization. 

Clause 8.2.1 deals with the interface between your organization and your customer. Depending on your business and industry, customer communication can take place in many ways. These include: 

·    Providing information with regard to your products and services  such as product and service catalogues, product brochures, product samples, product drawings and specifications, website information, customer visits by use of marketing, sales and product/project engineering rep’s, etc;   

·     Handling enquiries, contracts and orders, including changes . This includes sales calls, online order entry, order desk, order processing, website, CRM software, automatic inventory replenishment, responses to emails, attachments, PO's, RFQ's, order confirmation, change requests and change orders, meetings with customer engineering and other departments, order status and shipment notification, etc;   

·    Obtaining customer feedback  relating to PS and support, including customer complaints. This includes surveys, project feedback, telephone surveys, visits to customer locations, feedback on each shipment; See clause 9.1.2 for more details.   

·     Customer complaints  - Having a process for dealing with customer complaints including return material authorizations, dealing with warranty and past warranty claims, field returns, complaint escalation process, installation, start-up and commissioning  arrangements, witness testing, etc;   

·     Handling and controlling customer property . This is covered in detail under clause 8.5.3. This clause requires notifying appropriate customer personnel when property provided by them is lost, damaged, stolen or otherwise unsuitable for use. Methods of communication may include – phone, email, computerized notification, online access to and status of customer provided property, customer visit to organization site, etc;   

·     Contingency actions  are back up plans and actions to deal with unavoidable events that may disrupt an organizations normal operations. Your business and specifically the provision of products and services may be interrupted for various reasons (strikes, natural disasters, supplier issues, machine breakdowns, etc.) You must notify your customer when such situations may cause delays in processing customer orders.

This article is an extract from my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015”. The rest of the article on this clause discusses in detail the specific controls to address each of the specific requirements of clause 8.2.1.



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