Refusal to Document Complaints

QualiTEE

Involved In Discussions
#1
We have been documenting customer complaints on a simple Excel spreadsheet since 1999 without issue, until 2 years ago. The person assigned responsibility to record the complaints refuses to use the log, lies and says we don't get complaints, and offers no suggestions on how he would prefer to handle complaints so we can update our procedure.

The person does have email correspondence between customers and himself to resolve certain complaints. Can I tack a line in our procedure stating that emails pertaining to customer complaints are to be maintained as controlled documents? This person handles all of our customer orders and correspondence. It's impossible to track customer complaint trends without his input.

Any suggestions on how to handle? Management is aware of the issue, but I can't force their hand to force his hand to either cooperate or offer suggestions.
 
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Sidney Vianna

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Staff member
Admin
#2
Any suggestions on how to handle?
How much do you need this job? Are you willing to put in on the line? If the management of the organization is aware of the situation and, still, decide not to take action, they are, at least, accomplices of the deed. Do you know for sure if they are on your side? So, be aware of the potential ramifications of pursuing this.

How egregious are the complaints? Are they serious? Can injuries happen if the issues are not resolved? What is the context of the organization? Are products regulated? How do you know the complaints exist? Is that hearsay?

If you want to pursue this, what stops you from triggering a Corrective Action Request? If you know, for sure, he is violating the policy to formally handle customer complaints, that is a nonconformance against the system, isn't it?

Are you certified to a QMS standard by a 3ʳᵈ party? What if a "little bird" disclosed to the 3ʳᵈ party lead auditor that this individual is failing to document such complaints? Are you willing to take on the risks of blowing the whistle?

But, the more important aspect to ponder is: why isn't top management interested in making this individual perform his duties? That is the most telling piece of information about this situation. And that should give you reasons to reflect about the corporate culture of the organization.

Good luck.
 

QualiTEE

Involved In Discussions
#4
Management is "on my side", but is non-confrontational so I don't believe anything will be done. So, I won't lose my job by speaking up. Just... I don't think any action will be taken by management. I have to find work-arounds instead.

And yes, they really are complaints. Complaints about late delivery, machining defects, etc. Not something like the customer simply following up on their order. A customer ended up calling the president of the company because they were upset about a late delivery and lack of communication about one of their orders... and it didn't end up on the log though the guy is Sales speaks of that often and how upset the customer was.

I know the complaints exist because I had to serve as a backup for Sales for a short period and saw emails. Not through digging, mind you. Snippets of the conversation show up next to the Subject for each email received.

Let me add that I have done Internal Auditing in the past, but this is my first rodeo handing a QMS. I'm doing everything I can to get some training under my belt on the topic, but I'm green here.
 

Ed Panek

QA RA Small Med Dev Company
Trusted Information Resource
#5
If its a finding during an audit you may suffer more severe repercussions. Are you 9001 or something else?
 

QualiTEE

Involved In Discussions
#6
We are ISO 9001. We hire an outside source to perform our Internal Audits, in which a Non-Conformance was issued stating:

"Systems for recording of customer complaints is not effectively implemented, as required by the Customer Complaint/Compliment Process, and ISO 9001 clauses 9.1.2 and 10.2.1. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the company’s on-time delivery in 2019 has been less than 60%, yet there are zero recorded complaints relating to on-time delivery. With this being the case, it is unrealistic and improbable that there have not been delivery-related customer complaints."

Our sales guy seriously says he isn't getting complaints, but keeps talking and then immediately spouts off about three he received that aren't on the log.

So... I can't get him to use the log. That's the reality. I need a work around. This is getting so unreal at this point. I've talked to Accounting and Quality to try to catch issues on the back-end (they use the log), but delivery issues and certain other complaints are received only through the Sales Department. I do send out Customer Satisfaction Surveys which captures some complaints. Is that enough? I put those on the log and issue Action Requests on those. BUT, both Sales and Manufacturing Management refuse to respond to those as well. I've started having to write "non-response" on issued AR's and having to get Management's permission to reassign permanent responsibility for the issues. Seriously.

We are up for re-certification this year, and I'm having to spend all of my time rewriting procedures (the two offenders refuse to offer any input/communication on the changes they want to make despite my asking) and finding work-arounds for this. I'm a newbie! This is nuts.
 
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QualiTEE

Involved In Discussions
#8
The sales guy lies and says he'll use the log if we create a form instead (he still doesn't use it), he says we aren't getting complaints (we have proof that we are), but nothing is done about it. I ask for input from them so we can revise our procedure. He says he'll get back to me but crickets. I ask for follow ups, crickets.
 
Last edited:

Sidney Vianna

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Admin
#9
I need a work around.
No, you don't need a work around. You need a system where people have discipline, including top management. No organization in the world is perfect; all of them have customer complaints, which provides us a chance to understand where we failed to deliver to customer's expectations, and, when appropriate, introduce systemic changes (corrective actions) to prevent the issues from repeating. One of the traits of excellence in any organization's maturity journey is the ability to learn from negative events and devise ways to prevent recurrence. If an organization sweeps the complaints under the proverbial rug, they stand no chance to learn from it.

Maybe this individual is under the misunderstanding that customer complaints are something to be avoided, instead of embraced. He might be concerned with punitive/disciplinary actions, who knows? Nevertheless, the proper handling of customer complaints is PARAMOUNT for any highly functional QMS.

How was the nonconformity reported by your outsourced internal auditor resolved? Or was it?

In my experience, "work arounds" people failing to perform their duties are totally counter-productive. It tells the workforce they don't need to follow the system and there will be no repercussions for their lack of discipline. Once again, nobody can change, alone, the corporate culture of an organization, unless you are the top dog. But system sabotage needs to be denounced and corrected; otherwise, you have no hope of having an effective system.

Good luck.
 

Golfman25

Trusted Information Resource
#10
If your on time delivery is 60%, you have bigger issues than logging complaints. Truth is, you probably have so many, the sales guy would be over whelmed if he had to log them all. What I would do, is re-define what is required to be logged -- such as complaint evidenced by a request for corrective action. Many customers will require corrective actions if you delivery falls below a certain amount for a certain time. This way the organization can work on the systemic things, and the sales guy can take care of the simple corrections/I'm sorrys. Deal with the things you can control first and come back to complaints later when big things are fixed.
 
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