Customer Satisfaction

Clause 8.2.1 of ISO 9001:2000 requires an organization to “monitor information relating to customer perception as to whether the organization has met requirements”. It also requires methods be determined for “obtaining and using this information”.

Your organization should define the process for requesting, measuring, and monitoring customer feedback on a continual basis.
Sources of information include customer complaints, product returns, questionnaires, user surveys, focus groups, trip reports, comment cards, service reports, competitor benchmarks, customer scorecards, and recognition awards.

Possible questions for a simple customer satisfaction survey are:

How satisfied are you with:
1. Customer Service: our process for easily placing orders and providing timely product information?
2. Product Delivery: the on-time delivery and received condition of our products?
3. Product Quality: the degree to which your requirements for our products are being met?
4. Sales Support: the product knowledge, support, and responsiveness of your sales representative?
5. Product Value: the value of our products considering their application, operation, and cost?
6. Competitive Comparison: our products and support compared to that of our competition?

The customer response scale could be a) very satisfied; b) satisfied; c) neutral; d) dissatisfied; and e) very dissatisfied.

You could also ask customers for:
7. Improvement Suggestions: If you could improve one thing about our products or support, what would it be?
8. Other Comments: Do you have any other comments to share with us about our products or support?

Independent of ISO 9001, we should already be trying to satisfy our customers as a basic business strategy. An article in a past issue of Quality Digest (Measuring and Managing Customer Satisfaction by Kevin Cacioppo) included these interesting facts:

  • A 5 percent increase in loyalty can increase profits by 25% to 85%
  • A “very satisfied” customer is nearly six times more likely to be loyal and repurchase and/or recommend your product than a customer who is just “satisfied”
  • Only 4 percent of dissatisfied customers will complain
  • The average customer with a problem eventually tells nine other people
  • Satisfied customers tell five other people about their good treatment

Another new ISO 9001:2000 requirement (clause 7.2.3) calls for determining and implementing arrangements for communicating with customers on products, contracts, orders, amendments, inquiries, and complaints. However, ISO 9000:2000 warns us in two notes for its Customer Satisfaction definition:

(1) Customer complaints are a common indicator of low customer satisfaction, but their absence does not necessarily imply high customer satisfaction.

(2) Even when customer requirements have been agreed with the customer and fulfilled, this does not necessarily ensure high customer satisfaction.

Since we are to monitor information on the customer’s “perception” as to how well we are meeting their requirements, it seems we should ask for their opinion directly instead of relying on indirect measures that may be misinterpreted.