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ISO 9001 Customer Satisfaction 

What are the ISO 9001:2000 requirements for customer satisfaction (CS)?

Clause 8.2.1 of ISO 9001:2000 requires an organization to "monitor information relating to customer perception as to whether the organization has met requirements". It also requires methods be determined for "obtaining and using this information".

Clause 7.2.1 c) requires an organization to determine and implement effective arrangements for communicating with customers relating to customer feddback including customer complaints.

Clause 5.2 requires that top management shall “ensure that customer requirements are determined and met, with the aim of enhancing customer satisfaction”.

Customer satisfaction (feedback) is a tool (required by the standard) to gauge the health of your QMS, by measuring the degree of satisfaction customers have with your organization and its products from the customer’s point of view.
You want to find out what the customer’s evaluation is, of your performance with regard to their requirements.

Who should you obtain Customer Satisfaction feedback from?

Customers are primarily the end users of your product, but may also include intermediaries such as assemblers (internal or external) who integrate your product into theirs, and dealers and distributors who market and sell your product or the integrated product. You need to consider feedback from all these customers to determine whether or not you have met their specified and perceived requirements. 

What are the customer requirements that the standard is referring to?

Customer requirements may relate to the design, manufacture, delivery, servicing and support of product; the quality management system (QMS); communication and financial requirements; etc. Your organization must have controls to identify and meet these requirements to the satisfaction of your customers.

You must continually gather information (about these activities), in a manner capable of being analyzed and evaluated to determine how well you performed them.

What are examples of Customer Satisfaction  indicators?

There are all kinds of customer satisfaction performance indicators for design, manufacture, delivery, service and support, etc. Gather information on these indicators from both the customer as well from internal processes. Examples of useful indicators include:

Product quality, value and competitiveness; on-time delivery; packaging; competitive pricing; billing and credit note timeliness and accuracy; timeliness and accuracy of shipping documentation; timeliness and accuracy of quality documentation; flexibility - order fulfilment cycle-time and ability to handle emergency orders; reliability of advance shipment notifications; technical capability, support and response; customer sales, support and response; contract conformity; QMS conformity; handling of customer complaints; etc.

Can one use a rating scale to gauge Customer Satisfaction?

Organizations have flexibility in what indicators and rating scale they employ. The following is a simple customer response scale that can be used for each performance indicator or question:
1) very satisfied;
2) satisfied;
3) poor;
4) dissatisfied; and
5) very dissatisfied.

It is generally useful to ask customers for:
1. Improvement Suggestions:
2. Other Comments:

Depending upon your business and number of customers, you should try out different rating scales and performance indicators to find a combination that is effective.

What are some acceptable techniques to monitor Customer Satisfaction?

Information should be obtained on both positive and negative feedback to get the full picture of the customers overall perception of customer satisfaction.

There are many ways to monitor customer satisfaction feedback (positive and negative). These may include - customer complaints; direct communications with customers; questionnaires and surveys; using outside agencies to collect and analyze performance data (see clause 8.4); email and website forms, customer complaints, product returns; trip reports; field and service reports; customer scorecards; focus groups; recognition awards; reports from consumer organizations; reports in various media; sector and industry studies;etc.

Many customers routinely provide feedback on some of the methods indicated above. You must continually review this customer feedback to ensure you maintain and improve your customer satisfaction rating. Customer complaints are a common indicator of low customer satisfaction, but their absence does not necessarily imply high customer satisfaction.

Even when requirements have been agreed with the customer and fulfilled, this does not necessarily ensure high customer satisfaction.

What should your process for determining Customer Satisfaction  include?

You are expected to have a process that:

Identifies your customer satisfaction indicators;
Defines the frequency and cycle time for completion
Describes the method of data collection;
Summarizes of data in a way that it can be used for making decisions,
Reviews and evaluates the data;
Facilitates actions to improve customer satisfaction feedback,
Defines the responsibility and authority,
Describes the follow-up method and actions (see 5.6 management review).

You must monitor trends in customer satisfaction indicators and use these as a baseline for continual improvement. You should consider monitoring, both external as well as internal customer satisfaction.

What happens if the Customer Satisfaction  process is performed for your organization by head office or an outside agency?

If any or all of your customer satisfaction process activities are done off-site, your QMS must include the off-site process within your QMS and ensure that such processes comply with ISO 9001 requirements.

You must show the interaction with the off-site organization (head office perhaps) in addressing these requirements and show how customer feedback information from Head office is used by your facility for continual improvement and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Do we need a documented procedure for the Customer Satisfaction  process?

Clause 8.2.1 does not require a ‘documented’ procedure for customer satisfaction. However, you should identify and document the process addressing this clause as part of your QMS (see clause 4.1). You could use a documented procedure or other combination of specific practices, procedures, documents, methods, controls and resources (see clause 4.2.1d. and 7.1b.).

Look at the risks, process complexity and competence of personnel in determining the extent of documented controls you need to have (also see clause 4.2.1 notes).

What are useful indicators to measure the performance of the Customer Satisfaction  process itself?

Performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of the customer satisfaction may include - improvement in customer feedback ratings; reduction in customer complaints; increase in the number of customers providing feedback; increase in feedback that leads to QMS and product improvement opportunities.


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