Corrective Actions for Customer Complaints - Do ALL complaints have to be Answered?



A simple question. Refering to the new ISO standard, do all customer complaints/rejects that we get have to be answered with our own corrective action. Is this implied in the new stardard or am I just missing the section where this is stated?

Yes, I am refering to the new ISO 2000 standard. I agree with about the having the documented procedure. However, at our other facility the ISO Representative is writing a corrective action for all customer complaints. This rep has been working with one of the auditors on this issue and claims it is the way to go.

Any help would be appreciated.
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M Greenaway

You might also try to explain to your auditor the concepts of process variation, and process capability, coupled with the concept of special and common causes of variation.

Then say if a complaint received is found to be due to common cause variation, and the process is operating within acceptable limits of capability, why on earth should you do anything about it ??


Sorry to butt in Martin

I think if left as written your statement may be mis-interpreted.

I agree that process capability illustrates a certain process fallout which can be expected. I think you agree that the knowledge of our capability should be used by us to further protect the customer. We can't just say "our capability is 1.33 so you can expect to get about 6000 ppm nonconformance.

If we know we have process fallout, it is our obligation to our customer to prevent the escape of that fallout. If we have to run the parts through a vision system or 100% inspect, or whatever, it is understood that post-process safeguards become part of the process until we can eliminate (reduce) the fallout to an acceptable level. When the safeguard fails and allows a nonconformance to escape, we need to look hard at what went wrong.

This, of course, leads us to a discussion of "Zero Defects" which is another topic entirely.

We address each customer claim; first to determine if it is a manufacturing defect or just customer perception. Secondly, we random sample stock and WIP to determine if the defect is currently present
Third,if it is a defect, then we review our records to determine if it is recurring. If so we move it into the review and CA phase.

M Greenaway


I would argue that we can say just that !

This doesnt mean that we tell the customer to go away and stop bothering us, we still need to correct the problem by re-supplying good bits.

It just means that we will not take corrective action on the cause, as it may be a special cause and taking action might make things worse. Or if it is a common cause we might just have to 'tolerate' the fallout, and concentrate our improvement actions on those processes that are littered with special causes, and operating 'out of control' - perhaps.

I was thinking in broad process terms, including any 100% inspection.


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Trusted Information Resource

Don't confuse identifying the cause with corrective action. Identifying the root cause does not correct anything, nor does a corrective action necessarily eliminate the cause. Especially if you don't identify the cause in the first place.

There are cases where a corrective action may not be feasible, or necessary. You might have to make some concessions to the customer to make him happy, or replace parts, etc. But, if you are not looking to find out why things happen, you are losing a very valuable tool.

The one thing to remember is that not every root cause analysis is going to take three months and $10,000 to complete. If it is product variation, then you probably know and have documented it already. You know that you are producing 999,999 good parts for every one that is bad, if it isn't worth it to your business to change the percentages, so be it. I am sure that each of us that works for a manufacturer has a whole list of "tribal knowledge" items that we can tell at a moments notice "oh, yeah, that is caused by "xyz" but the risk is just not great enough to justify the money it would take to improve the process."

Have a good day!

M Greenaway


Thats pretty much what I said.

If we supply crap we are still duty bound to take it back and re-supply good stuff - no question. But do we want to, or can we change our process so that the fault never happens again ?


I hate it

To encourage problem reporting, we are "tracking" all complaints, internal and external. The range of severity ranges from Customers receiving incorrect parts to our order entry mistakes that occur because you hit a "5" instead of a "4" on the keyboard. Contested invoices, double ordering by Purchasing, design snafus, B/P errors, etc..Right now, we can't begin to assign CA/PA for individual problems. Having said all that, we are functioning very well in the overall scheme of things. Less than 2% in Customer returns. Most of these are a result of communication problems between Sales and the Customer and Sales and our warehouse. Customers are made whole, very quickly through concessions such as free freight on the next order, and continue to say that we are the best in the business. I can't imagine what our competitors are doing to keep them with us. It's money we could best spend elsewhere, but for now, not that big a concern. To me, they are all serious and amazed that everyone else just shrugs their shoulders and say "Oh Well". My orders are simple:Track them all....and I'm kept busy. In a few weeks, I will have approx. 250 "problems" that we will group and ask for C/A-P/A on.

Hey Mike, and they ask me why I drink.:vfunny: :ko: :smokin:
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