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Understanding ISO 9001:2015

5.1.2    Customer Focus  

Organizations depend on their customers. Without customers there would be no need for most organization to exist. Focusing on the customer provides a unity of purpose when all activities and efforts are directed towards achieving customer and regulatory requirements. It is top managements responsibility to emphasize this fact throughout the organization 

Customer focus is about understanding and taking care of customer’s specified needs and expectations by providing products and services that effectively address them. 

Organizations gain competitive advantage by increasing the value to customers in one or more activities, relative to what competitors offer. Value is defined as improving the worth of the product or service to the customer either through lowering the price or increasing the product or service performance characteristics or both. Top management must focus on increasing the value to the customer while optimizing the use of QMS resources and minimizing the risks and costs to the organization. 

Customer satisfaction is the customer’s perception of how well their needs and expectations have been fulfilled, whether these needs and expectations are stated or implied.  

It is by understanding and addressing these and other customer perceptions and by building pre and post sale relationships with each customer that your organization can achieve and enhance customer satisfaction. 

Everything else flows from these definitions. An organization’s products, services, support, management, employees, vision, mission, strategies, business plans, goals and objectives, business processes, consideration of risks and opportunities, employee responsibilities, business environment, culture, etc, must be developed around and focused on achieving these two primary objectives.  

This clause relates to top management’s role in accomplishing this by demonstrating their leadership and commitment in applying this approach to customer focus across all the activities listed above (which which includes the QMS activities themselves mentioned in clause 5.1.2 a, b & c.). 

It doesn’t mean they have to do it themselves, but they must provide the necessary direction and oversight to make sure the organization does it and does it effectively. 

Customer focus is also the first of the QMS principles on which this ISO 9001 standard is based upon. Please go back clause 0.2 and read the actions that top management must direct an organization to take to fulfil the requirements under this clause 5.1.2. Also go back to clause 5.1.1 and re-read the definitions for the terms - top management, leadership, commitment and ensure. 

This article is an extract from my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015”. The rest of the discussion in my eCourse focuses on action items that top management can take to address this requirement 


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