Quality Manager's role in Customer and Supplier Complaints

J

JJRegs

#1
Hello,

I'm having to re-educate the team with regards to customer and supplier complaints. Currently complaints are handled differently by different departments or even staff within those departments. I'd like a centralised co-ordinator to log complaints and their progress and to liaise with other departments to find the solution. Currently often the quality manager doesn't get informed of complaints.

My question really is should the Quality Manager handle customer complaints and complaint recording etc, how involved should they be?

We are a small company with only two in QA, we use a paper based documenting system and need input from lots of different departments to find the root cause.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
 
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#2
Re: Quality Managers role in Complaints

QA is responsible for loging, montoring and closing of complaints. Every complaint should be routed through QA.
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#3
Re: Quality Manager's role in Complaints

If you are a paper-based company, having a central "gatekeeper" or coordinator to log, process, route and close-out complaints on to the appropriate personnel may be helpful.

With only 2 people in QA, however, including the Quality Manager in every complaint may be expecting a bit much (depending on the number of complaints you receive). Options to help use the Quality Manager's time in a more value-added manner could include:
  • Monthly/Quarterly analysis of all complaints to look for trends, costs, etc.
  • Define triggers for complaints so that any serious issues (i.e., above a certain $ value, attributed to a certain department/process - example: production error over a paperwork error) are flagged to include the Quality Manager in the loop
  • Regular group meetings including representatives of areas that received complaints with the Quality Manager
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#4
Re: Quality Manager's role in Complaints

I agree the QA manager should be aware of the complaints, their progress and resolution, but I also approve of the complaints being actively handled by responsible process people. The data needs to be collected for management review and it makes sense for the QA Manager to offer his help with error proofing for preventive action, but some of the most effective systems I have seen have employees who were empowered and actively engaged in serving customers and resolving issues.
 
J

JJRegs

#5
Re: Quality Manager's role in Complaints

Hi Everyone, thank you for your input. I have revised the complaints proedure to ensure that the QM is involved but doesn't need to directly handle each and every complaint.

One further question, What would be the Quality Managers role in procedures?

In my previous companies ( and others i worked with) the QM always had to approve QMS procedures before issue. Work instructions and manuals were approved by department heads. This way it ensured revision control etc. If a department (such as pruchasing) wanted to change or update a procedure it should follow those specified by the QM and be approved for issue by the QM?

That has always been my understanding - can anyone help shed some light on this?
 
I

isoalchemist

#6
Re: Quality Manager's role in Complaints

:2cents: For what it's worth, I have always had QA (manager or representative) in the middle of all document control procedures and have a sign-off. If nothing elese it keep format and look consistent, and revision control. It's amazing how many work instructions get revised from copies that are not current:notme:

It's also a great way to make sure a department is not either working themselves into a corner or cutting a corner during a revision. It is also a great way to see changes in the organization between audits.

I've tried to make it a value add rather than finding out during an audit that a problem existed.
 
D

DrM2u

#7
Re: Quality Manager's role in Complaints

One further question, What would be the Quality Managers role in procedures?
JJ, you are asking us to make a fine line out of a very grey area! From my experience (and IMHO), the role and responsibilities of the QM are defined by the top management of every organization, and may or may not include the attributes of dealing with customer-originated complains and/or problems, or managing policies and documentation. Within the organization should be a position responsible for implementin, maintaining and managing the QMS, and the person doing this better know what he/she is doing. The functions dealing with customer complains could differ based on the nature of the problem, but a system of monitoring and managing complaint resolution would only benefit the company.

Trying to answer more directly to your question, I suggest that you ask your executives how they established the QM role, and what was the logic behind it. If you believe that the logic was flawed, or want to change the existing role, then be prepared to present your case with strong arguments (talk money with the executives!).
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#8
Re: Quality Manager's role in Complaints

One further question, What would be the Quality Managers role in procedures?

In my previous companies ( and others i worked with) the QM always had to approve QMS procedures before issue. Work instructions and manuals were approved by department heads. This way it ensured revision control etc. If a department (such as pruchasing) wanted to change or update a procedure it should follow those specified by the QM and be approved for issue by the QM?
In my opinion, there are several questions to ask yourself (and leadership) when it comes to approving procedures:
  • What is the purpose of the procedures?
  • What value is gained by having the Quality Manager approve them?
  • What risk(s) exist if the Quality Manager is not the approver?
  • Can more than one approver be possible?
  • Is the Quality Manager the "right" person to approve a procedure?

Here's how I look at it...is the Quality Manager also responsible for the Purchasing process? If not, then my opinion is that the Quality Manager is NOT the one responsible for approving any changes to any Purchasing documentation. As has already been mentioned, the Quality Manager could be a co-approver, approving the document for format, conformance to organizational document controls, and aspects that relate to the quality of the product (or that will impact the ability to meet customer requirements).

My stance when it comes to document control is that the Quality Manager (or whomever is responsible for the document control process) should encourage accountability and responsibility to other process owners on the aspects of conforming to document control. I applaud the fact that department heads are approving work instructions at your organization, but by having the Quality Manager approve procedures that aren't in the Quality area, I find this maintains a police-like rule over the management system, instead of promoting a culture that everyone lives and breathes.

Personally, if I was the Quality Manager, I would not want my name showing that I signed off on a Purchasing procedure. I am neither an expert in that area nor do I have responsibilities/accountabilities with that process. What if something went wrong with a final product and an investigation showed that the issue was due to nonconforming incoming product? With the Quality Manager's signature on the Purchasing document outlining the protocols for incoming product, whose neck is on the line?

Again, it boils down to accountability and responsibility. Having a system - in this case, a document control process - that shows proper accountability and responsibility supporting the existence of a management system that goes beyond looking good on paper, but also encourages a healthy business culture, is something all organizations should aim for.
 
J

JJRegs

#9
Hi RCBeyette,

I do agree with what you are saying, my difficulty is around ensuring control over the procedure. In our business we have manuals relating to different departments. When a procedure changes within that manual, does the Quality Manager need to be involved?

It looks like i'm trying to over complicate things!
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#10
Hi RCBeyette,

I do agree with what you are saying, my difficulty is around ensuring control over the procedure. In our business we have manuals relating to different departments. When a procedure changes within that manual, does the Quality Manager need to be involved?

It looks like i'm trying to over complicate things!
Again, if the documentation does not fall into the realm of the Quality Manager's scope of responsibility, I would not involve the Quality Manager in the approval process.

It really depends on what role the Quality Manager plays within your document control process. Maybe the QM is there simply to approve that the procedure follows the proper format for documents at the procedure level...maybe that function could be made as part of the review process prior to approval though.

Still, looking for conformance through a format lens is rather clerical and maybe a lower level admin person could take on that particular responsibility, freeing up the Quality Manager to do things that are more suitable to that position.
 
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