Customer Complaint/Nonconforming Product Inquiry

#1
Hello Forum!

My company is struggling a bit with how to close some identified gaps noted within the interaction of our customer complaint and nonconforming product processes. Would be especially interested in how other companies are handling similar issues at their facilities. Thank you in advance for your feedback - it's great appreciated on our end!

We make biological materials that are often custom-made to customer specifications. When we manufacture product, in some cases we ship the total product directly to the customer, in others, we send a pre-shipment sample to the customer for evaluation and acceptance.
We have 2 processes for tracking and segregating product that is not meeting customer requirements – one for non-conforming product and one for customer complaints.
Non-conforming product generally refers to material in-house – material that fails QC, product in finished goods inventory that may be suspect due to incorrect storage etc.
The customer complaint process relates to any negative feedback from the customer, including complaints about product quality / not meeting customer specifications etc. This generally occurs when customers have received the total product, which the customer may wish to then return, but occasionally could be related to a pre-shipment sample where the bulk of the order is still in our inventory.
In some cases customer complaints are not being initiated from negative feedback related to product performance – because we weren’t aware of a certain customer specification (the customer hadn’t informed us of this requirement).

We have a concern that customer complaints related to product quality / performance may not be adequately tracked and handled (e.g., Sales not generating a customer compalint form after receiving negative feedback, etc.)

1. Should the non-conforming product process be used for just the current in-house products with quality related complaints handled through the complaints process? Or if a customer is complaining about product quality, is it therefore considered non-conforming?
2. Should all negative feedback that is related to product performance generate a customer complaint – even if, after evaluation, the complaint is not considered justified?
3. If product is returned due to a customer complaint, is this quarantined as a customer complaint return or as non-conforming product?
4. If a customer complains about a pre-shipment sample, is the remaining material, which is still in-house, considered non-conforming product and needs handling through the non-conforming product process, or part of the customer complaint?
 
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L

lk2012

#2
1. Should the non-conforming product process be used for just the current in-house products with quality related complaints handled through the complaints process? Or if a customer is complaining about product quality, is it therefore considered non-conforming?
2. Should all negative feedback that is related to product performance generate a customer complaint ? even if, after evaluation, the complaint is not considered justified?
3. If product is returned due to a customer complaint, is this quarantined as a customer complaint return or as non-conforming product?
4. If a customer complains about a pre-shipment sample, is the remaining material, which is still in-house, considered non-conforming product and needs handling through the non-conforming product process, or part of the customer complaint?
hi,
1&2 seem connected in a way.
1. All complaints (both internal non-conformances and external ones) should be logged and analyzed. However, and that leads to
2. only justified ones should be analyzed. I've seen far too many so-called complaints caused by customers not being able to read a technical drawing correctly or trying to get payout after causing damage by mis-handling the parts.
3. You can call it whatever you wish but make sure it's marked properly and segregated from any other material.
4. In this case, the whole batch associtated with the sample is considered suspect (and indeed, any other material made in the same process / settings etc). This should be quarantined and inspected before any further processing.

Hope this helps
Lil
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#3
1. Should the non-conforming product process be used for just the current in-house products with quality related complaints handled through the complaints process? NO The just emphasized
Or if a customer is complaining about product quality, is it therefore considered non-conforming?YES. because you are into custom products
2. Should all negative feedback that is related to product performance generate a customer complaint – YES
even if, after evaluation, the complaint is not considered justified? This is the result of investigation of the customer complaint
3. If product is returned due to a customer complaint, is this quarantined as a customer complaint return or as non-conforming product? Customer complaint return. Keep traceability and ensure you not mix them with your inventory. It is non conforming, but the source is customer and not internal
4. If a customer complains about a pre-shipment sample, is the remaining material, which is still in-house, considered non-conforming product and needs handling through the non-conforming product process, or part of the customer complaint? Customer complaint can trigger a corrective action for the non-conforming product which is still in-house.
 
T

Tara Monson

#4
Wow!

This is almost IDENTICAL to our scenarios at my facility. We also ship samples to customers for approval prior to shipping bulk material. However, we require it of all of our goods.

We very rarely (in fact i have never seen it) where a nonconformance stems from a customer complaint - simply because of our definitions. We require pre-approval to ship...

A nonconformance at our facility is defined as a product failing to meet specifications. If a customer states that product X did not meet their specification A and it's not one of our specifications, we do not call that a nonconformance. We log it as a customer feedback. If it does, in fact, fail one of our specifications (for some reason, is acting differently than when we tested and customer sampled it), we will write it up as a customer COMPLAINT.

Most of these complaints come with QA cc'd on the messages so we have not had an issue with no documentation.
 

Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
#5
I concur with everything in lk2012 & somashekar posts! :)

2. Should all negative feedback that is related to product performance generate a customer complaint – even if, after evaluation, the complaint is not considered justified?
Logging feedback is always worthwhile from an improvement point of view, even if you don't decide to act on them right away. Customer expectations may change or trends identified over time...

For example, maybe a customer complains about the font on a label. You might think: no big deal, specifications don't specify a font...just a finicky customer...
...but then another customer makes a similar complaint...then another...
Just because it wasn't an issue initially (or not an explicit non-conformance in terms of specifications), having these complaints documented will help later on to decide when it becomes an issue...
 
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