What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Customer’?

It’s likely you are picturing a person consuming your goods or services.  Perhaps standing in a queue waiting to pay for a basket of groceries, or sitting at a desk signing a finance agreement for a new car or sofa.

Of course this is absolutely correct and, arguably, these people are the most important interested party to build your company processes around.  Without paying customers, there would be no business.

Many Quality Management Systems (QMS) are built around this principle, and deliver successful results.

The word ‘Customer’ is used 93 times in ISO 9001:2015.

However, having worked with Quality Management Systems for many years, and particularly those based on ISO 9001, the internationally recognised standard, I have seen some missed opportunities with this approach.

Who are your Internal Customers?

The ‘Process Approach’ to Management Systems is well established and easily understood.  Processes have an input and an output, with the business operating several different processes that can be interconnected, to achieve its strategic goals.  For example, the output of process A can become the input for process B, and so on.

When we consider the paying customer, as above, we are often looking at the overall-company’s strategic goal.

It can be easy to forget that the individual processes, or the sub-set of processes that make up departments, also have internal customers who have requirements and expectations to be met.

For the company to meet its overall strategic objectives, processes and departments must ensure they are working together to deliver the correct outputs in the correct time frame, for others to use as inputs.

This is where ISO 9001 can be used to identify the requirements of the internal customer.

Getting it Right for Internal Customers

One sector that performs well for internal customer excellence is the IT Helpdesk.  IT Departments can have a tough time, often seen as an overhead that does not contribute to the company’s revenue, the IT Department exists purely to serve an internal client-base.

This is well recognised with frameworks such as ITIL, and the associated ISO 20000 standard.

Many IT Departments now operate a service desk system which registers each ‘customer’s’ issue against a ticket number.  This has many benefits including accountability, traceability, and the facility to report on response and resolution times.  

Having good reporting processes allows IT Departments to set targets and implement improvements that increase the satisfaction of internal customers and supports other business processes to achieve its ultimate goals.

Improve Your Internal Customer Experience with ISO

Assent Consultants can help you review business processes and expand your Quality Management System to ensure the requirements of internal customers are considered.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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