The ISO 9001 standard has the focus on the customer and the increase of their satisfaction as one of its main principles. The best way to achieve this goal is through continuous and systematic evaluation of the product or service that the organization provides, analyzing the fulfillment of the requirements and expectations of its customers throughout the supply cycle.
Monitoring customer satisfaction allows early identification of problems relating to the quality, performance and functionality of the product or services and unmet customer expectations. The success of the organization certainly depends on its customers and, therefore, understanding customers’ current and future needs will allow them to meet their requirements and exceed their expectations. However, there are still some difficulties in how to perform this satisfaction measurement and, most importantly, how the results can bring significant improvements in the quality management of a company.
What does the standard say?
Requirements such as scope and quality objectives bring the need for customer focus and customer satisfaction. Some items that you will find in the standard regarding this subject are summarized below:
- Item 5.2 – Customer focus: This item demonstrates that senior management must demonstrate commitment to customer focus and ensure that the increase of customer satisfaction is maintained.
- Item 6.2.1 – Quality objectives: This item demonstrates that the quality objectives established by the organization must be relevant to the compliance of products and services and to increase customer satisfaction.
- Item 9.1.3 – Analysis and evaluation: This item demonstrates that organizations must analyze and evaluate the data and information of the degree of customer satisfaction.
- Item 9.3.2 – Management critical analysis inputs: This item demonstrates that the critical analysis of senior management must take into account trends related to customer satisfaction.
- Item 10.1 – Improvement: This item demonstrates that the organization must make improvements and implement any actions necessary to increase customer satisfaction.
In addition to all these requirements mentioned above, the standard includes a specific item only regarding customer satisfaction:
“Item 9.1.2 Customer Satisfaction – The organization must monitor customers’ perception of the degree to which their needs and expectations have been met. The organization must determine the methods for obtaining, monitoring, and critically analyzing this information.”
How to perform customer satisfaction monitoring?
It is clear that customer satisfaction is extremely essential to maintain effective quality management in companies. But how should we perform this customer satisfaction management? The main strategy is to create a systematic method that assesses customers’ perceptions of the degree of satisfaction of their needs and expectations. In this way, the organization will ensure that all the requirements mentioned above are met.
Each product or service offered by organizations has its characteristics that reflect customer expectations and the quality desired by them. Therefore, after understanding what these expectations are, the company must measure them using a customer satisfaction monitoring method.
Item 9.1.2 of the 2015 version of the standard also contains a note of some examples of how this monitoring of customer perceptions can be carried out and are: customer surveys, customer feedback on products or services delivered, customer meetings, market share analysis, compliments, warranty claims and distributor reports. Most companies use the satisfaction survey as the main tool among those exemplified here.
How to prepare a customer satisfaction survey?
Below is a step by step guide of how to prepare a customer satisfaction survey that may be effective in monitoring this important requirement in your organization. It is important to note, however, that some items may vary from organization to organization. This will depend on your product or service and how you want to perform this monitoring.
- Define who will be responsible for conducting the survey beyond monitoring and measuring customer satisfaction. Generally the sales team is responsible for this activity together with the quality team.
- Prepare a satisfaction survey form with questions that will measure the quality of your product and/or service. You can use satisfaction scales that will facilitate and much at the time of reading the data. At the end, always leave a box for compliments or complaints.
- Determine which customers will participate in the survey. There are some companies that choose customers based on revenue contribution, although I believe that the greater the number of participants, the better the result for the organization. Sometimes customers who make few purchases can bring important data regarding the quality of the product or service.
- Define the way the survey will be conducted (email, phone number, letters, or physically).
- Train the employees who will conduct this survey with customers. They should be able to explain the purpose of that survey and encourage feedback.
- Monitor timing and response rate. Collect all survey forms completed after the stipulated deadline. I would suggest two weeks, but it may vary in each organization.
- Perform an analysis of the data by customer, by category and by classification.
- Present the results to the senior management.
How to evaluate the results?
After completing all the research, we come to the most important part of this activity, the evaluation of the results. It is at this stage that we apply continuous improvement and put into practice actions to increase customer satisfaction.
- List all items that have been classified as unsatisfactory in the survey and set up meetings with the areas involved to identify the root cause of the problems and prepare action plans to resolve them.
- It is always good form to provide the customer with general feedback on the responses obtained in the survey.
- Use customer responses to uncover opportunities for improvement. Include in your risk and opportunity plan, if appropriate.
- Monitor whether the proposed actions are being carried out within their initially defined deadlines.
- Discuss the results, feedback and actions at critical review meetings.
- See if there is a need to change the scope and/or quality objectives.
It is important that this research is carried out with a defined frequency and that improvements are incorporated whenever necessary.
How can SoftExpert help you?
With an intuitive interface, the SoftExpert Survey allows users to create and publish a questionnaire in a matter of minutes. Questions and pages can be included and the user can edit the questionnaire according to their preference. The analysis tool also enables deeper analysis of results and better decisions through groupings, filters and cross-referencing of information.