Toolpack: organizational development, surveys, and change

Customer surveys for ISO 9000 (ISO 9001)

Formal customer feedback can be important in product and service quality. That's reflected in the International Standardization Organization's (ISO) recent decision to make customer feedback a requirement of its ISO 9000 quality standards.

Customer information can help companies to increase service quality, innovation, and customer retention.

For more on the benefits of customer contact, click here.

Requirements

To be specific, the following are required by ISO 9001:

Section 5.2 - Customer Focus: "Top management needs to ensure that customer needs and expectations are determined, converted into requirements and fulfilled with the aim of enhancing customer satisfaction."

8.2.1 - Customer satisfaction: "As one of the measurements of the performance of the QMS, you need to monitor information relating to customer perception as to whether the organization has fulfilled customer requirements. The methods for obtaining and using this information need to be determined."

The implication is clear. The company must collect and analyze information from customers on whether they feel the company has met their requirements. While the method is not yet specified, there are several viable options.

Methods

The best way to stay in touch with customers is through personal phone calls or meetings, where that is possible. However, many companies, particularly small businesses, do not have the resources to formally speak with each customer - especially when the customer base is large.

Telephone interviews are a "second best" way to stay in touch, but, again, not everyone has the resources to do phone interviews, or to hire a professional to do them.

Because of this, many companies use paper-and-pencil and electronic customer surveys to stay in touch and get customer feedback and input. These surveys can provide a good source of product or service ideas, along with an external quality check. If customers provide their names, they can also be used for customer recovery.

Toolpack Consulting and its dedicated customer-research partners can work with you to develop a paper, Internet, or interview-based survey, gather the information you need, and, optionally, link it with your internal measures (employee and operations).

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