Slide 64 of 262
5.2 Customer Focus
NOTE: There are no new requirements in Customer Focus from the 1994 version requirements.
Top management shall ensure that customer requirements are determined and are met with the aim of enhancing customer satisfaction (see 7.2.1 and 8.2.1).
5.2- Customer Focus correlates somewhat with 4.3.2 of the 1994 standard.
This is a new terminology addition to ISO 9001. Currently the thought is this is in part evidenced during planning stages. The implementation currently appears to be that the expectation is that customer 'needs and expectations' be determined not only during quality planning but to also be re-evaluated periodically. The words NEEDS and EXPECTATIONS muddy the waters as they are quite open to interpretation. 'Converting' these to 'requirements' implies defining measurables.
The interpretation here is still murky. The question most open to discussion is how a company determines customer ‘needs’ and ‘expectations’. In manufacturing there are tools such Quality Function Deployment. In essence, QFD (Quality Function Deployment) is a tool to map out product characteristics with customer wants and needs, working to determine the value the customer puts on the characteristics. There is a very brief discussion on QFD with respect to service at http://Elsmar.com/Forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1251 . However, QFD is just one tool and it is a ‘difficult’ one to master. QFD is not a specific suggestion from me – just ‘food for thought’.
Converting customer ‘needs’ and ‘expectations’ into requirements is less of an issue. If you determine a customer ‘expects’ quick service, you define what ‘quick’ is. For example – one service company has determined that 4 hours is the longest a customer would want to wait for a service representative to contact them after contacting the company for service. The company has integrated this requirement into its response system. The question is – How did you determine this?
The big change here is the difference between "Achieving" customer satisfaction and "Enhancing" customer satisfaction. The push for continual improvement is a global characteristic of the new standard, and 5.2 is not an exception.
The idea behind the customer focus requirement is to create a focus on your customers and their satisfaction. This is a necessary requirement for developing, planning and improving upon your company’s quality management system. Of course most companies would consider themselves focused on customers and their satisfaction, but what does that mean? What do companies do to ensure their knowledge of customer requirements? How do companies work to ENHANCE their customer’s satisfaction?
The most common way that companies gather their customer requirements is by initial and repetitive interactions with the customer. Interacting with the customer is the strongest way to get their feedback, but to enhance their satisfaction you may need to be a little more creative. Using tools such as customer surveys, market research and customer feedback forms will help if performed in the right way. Explore not only the customer’s satisfaction with the current product and/or service that you provide them but also how they would like to see the product, delivery and service improve. Customers will respond positively to this type of survey as well, knowing that your interests are placed on enhancing their satisfaction.
Potential Audit Questions:
1. What does your company do to understand customer requirements? Is this a structured system? How is this information gathered?
2. Is your company focused on ACHIEVING customer requirements or ENHANCING customer satisfaction?
3. How can your company enhance customer satisfaction? Is it possible for your company to enhance customer satisfaction? If so, what will your company do to continual improve customer satisfaction?
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