ISO 9001 refers to international standards of quality that explicitly demonstrates Quality Management System (QMS) specific requirements. Organizations, both large and small businesses use this standard to ensure a consistent delivery of quality products and services that particularly meet the requirements of customers and legal regulatory specifications.
ISO 9001:2015 is the latest revised version which was released back in 2015. Please note that all the organizations holding ISO 9001:2008 needs to make a transition to ISO 9001:2015 by September 2018. Otherwise, their license to the standard will not remain valid.
ISO 9001:2015 – Quality and Customer Satisfaction
Considering the ever-increasing continuous demands of quality, products, and services, or prices on small companies the most effective and efficient way to gain customer trust and confidence is through a well-structured Quality Management System – in this scenario, ISO 9001:2015. This revised version is more focused on the micro and small business sectors, considering the financial and employment importance.
This standard ISO 9001:2015 is considered to be only implementable for large organizations, however which is not true. As the standard states that it is carefully written for all businesses regardless of their size.
It is important for the small businesses to understand that this standard is written for all sizes of businesses and thus provide significant business opportunities, improvements and customer satisfaction. The process is not complex and is designed to work with every small business existing operating systems. Considering your current business models and systems implementation of ISO 9001 Quality Management System can be significantly low cost and low maintenance with only a little documentation necessary.
Current Case of ISO 9001:2015 and Customer Focus
The current revised version ISO 9001:2015 holds “Customer Focus” on top of the list of QMP – 7 Quality Management Principles. The standard focuses on providing customer satisfaction by adhering to and successfully meeting specific customer requirements. Ensuring service quality and customer satisfaction starts with the “PLAN” which is the first phase of PDCA Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act). As per the standard, the small organizations’ needs “to establish the objectives of the system and its processes, and the resources needed to deliver results in accordance with customers’ requirements and the organization’s policies, and to identify and address risks and opportunities.”
ISO 9001 Clauses in relation to Customer Satisfaction
Clause 9.1.2 – It requires the organization to gauge and monitor’s customer perceptions to an extent to which their stated needs and requirements have been fulfilled. As a small business you can ensure the continuous implementation of this clause within your customer oriented business strategies and feedback procedures.
Clause 5.1.2 – it requires the organization to ensure that focus on customer satisfaction is maintained. As a small business or organization you can enhance you customer satisfaction by approaching to them proactively and solving their problems or issues with full concern in order to build a trustable customer-company relationship.
Clause 8.2.1 – this clause refers to the interest of the organization in customer’s feedback regarding the quality of products and services, including complaints and criticisms. Successful and continuous implementation and analysis of this point within the organization can eventually develop trust in customers. Secondly, involvement of customers and their valuable feedback can enable you to improve the quality of your products and services. Thus, increasing levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Clause 9.1.3b – this clause requires the organization to carefully identify, monitor, analyze, and finally evaluate the level of customer satisfaction. Organizations can make use of this clause by implementing the procedure throughout the organization and making sure that each response given by customer is saved and future actions are improved on the basis of those responses. This is to sustain and improve customer satisfaction and customer relationships.
What the standard says in order to help you improve customer relationships
As discussed about ISO 9001:2015 is more focused on customer satisfaction than any other point and encourages to continuously maintain and improve customer relationship. There are some specific components that can be considered while ensuring quality and customer satisfaction. Small Businesses can benefit from these components and build long-term reliable customer relationships with potential customers.
Making sure that the business leaders within the organization are taking extra responsibility can prove to be a good news for the customers. Imagine a scenario, where a business leader takes out time from usual routine to contact organization’s potential customers and take their feedback on the quality of services they received. This will provide an actual growth and improvement opportunity for the organization and subsequently makes the customers feel more valuable thus resulting in stronger customer relationship. Incorporation of leadership requirements as per the new revised standard organizations can bring potential benefit to the organization.
It is one of the core components of the standard that deals with the overall performance evaluation, specifically with customer satisfaction. Evaluating the performance, taking notice and consistently improving the Quality Management System can help you enhance the quality of products and services but it is important to carefully assess, evaluate and measure the performance when it comes to customer satisfaction. For any small organization, it is important to have a corrective action system for any customer complaints and queries. A customer can become closer to your organization knowing that you hold a right set of abilities to fix quality problems and prevent further reoccurrences. Thus, initiating and conforming and a string company-customer relationship.
Controlling External Suppliers
Another key aspect of ISO 9001:2015 is to control the performance of any other external provider or supplier. In simple words, the better quality services or products you will receive from the suppliers the better it would be for you to deliver hi-end quality assured goods and services to the customers. ISO 9001:2015 standard enables your organization to streamline this process and ensure timely delivery of quality products and services from the external suppliers.
Operational Planning and Control
The ultimate key to satisfying customers is through structured operational planning and control. It always has been considered as the core component of customer satisfaction. The entire production process is included in it, from initiation processes, planning processes, controlling design and development to managing change requests and external supplies/suppliers. In short, the more good and consistent you are with this process the more you will be able to satisfy the demands and requirements of your customers by delivering quality products and services.
We understand that everything a company does to comply with the ISO 9001:2015 Standard will have a direct effect on customers and thus on the customer relationships as well. The more open, transparent and accountable you will be towards your customers the more trust and stronger relationship you will be able to develop with your customers. Thus, it is highly recommended to use and incorporate ISO 9001:2015 Standard and requirements to build valuable customer relationships with your customers based on trust and confidence. Ensuring to use ISO 9001:2015 as a core foundation can help you gain potential customers and develop and long-lasting bond with existing customers as well. Do not wait for your customers to contact you for auditing, be proactive and invite them for the auditing process yourself.