However, just as the ISO 9001 standard has adapted to cover services as well as products, so too has the way we engage with customers.
Traditional Measurements of Quality
For a long time we have looked in the same areas to measure the effectiveness of our quality management systems, including:
Refunding the customer usually means something has gone wrong, and reverse engineering credit notes can lead to some interesting findings.
If a customer has complained then something has definitely gone wrong, and the company has probably missed several opportunities to correct it.
A favourite of ISO 9001 implementations is the customer feedback survey, which will usually have a limited response and is unlikely to be a full representation of your performance.
New Opportunities for Quality Monitoring & Measurement
However, while all these methods are still valid and useful, they are after-the-fact, when it is too late. This new age of social media, and the Internet in general, gives us some very valuable tools to assess customer mood, exploit positives and turn-around negatives.
Many organisations avoid social media because “if someone complains then everyone will see” but this is probably the best reason to embrace it.
Having a presence on social media and connecting with customers, suppliers and other interested parties provides a wealth of information that you can use to your advantage.
Responding to Criticisms & Complaints
Social media does provide an easy outlet for unhappy voices, but it’s also an instant outlet. That means you may hear from the customer during or very shortly after their bad experience.
Even if the problem can’t be fixed there-and-then, a fast and public response committing to resolve the issue could not only save a customer for the future, but also reassure other potential customers that you wouldn’t leave them high-and-dry.
And of course the root cause of the problem can be investigated with corrective action implemented quickly – avoiding other customers experiencing the same issues.
Responding to Praise & Requests
Often in ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems we can focus too much on the negatives and forget the positives, but these are important too.
Social media can show you what you are doing well, allowing you to feed that back to staff and encourage more of it.
Identifying Opportunities for Development
Using information shared on social media, such as photos of products in use or services in action, you can also identify improvements based on ‘user experience’.
These improvements can be quickly fed in to the development cycle, speeding up innovation and creating new product or service lines.
While traditional methods of monitoring and measurement still have a place, don’t ignore the value of social media for reaching out to customers and hearing their experiences first hand.
Assent can help you implement a quality management system to ISO 9001 and find the measures that give you the best feedback on performance.