Customer Satisfaction

Gage R&R, Torque Wrence


The question is about in IATF 16949. It said the input to management review shall include (f) customer satisfaction. Because that clause is supplemental to ISO 9001, 9.3.2, where C (1) customer satisfaction and feedback from relevant interested parties is inclusive, why does it repeat here? I asked to see 9.2.1 in ISO 9001 but I didn’t see any specific difference between them.


That’s a very good question, and you’re right that it’s a subtle difference.  It seems that the reference to clause 9.1.2 in the 16949 clause makes it very specific and deliberate that the customer satisfaction being referred to must include “perception” (9.1.2) and that the customer satisfaction in management review will be derived from how “the organization shall determine the methods for obtaining, monitoring and reviewing this information”  (9.1.2).   I hope you find this clarification helpful.

Denis J. Devos, P.Eng
A Fellow of the American Society for Quality
Devos Associates Inc.
(519) 476-8951

ISO 9001: Product Development and Customer Satisfaction

Manufacturing, inspection, exclusions

Q: Does a company certified to ANSI/ISO/ASQ Q9001-2008 Quality management systems — Requirements that produces raw materials for a customer according to their written specification also, as a raw material supplier, have a responsibility under ISO 9001 to meet the customer’s needs for their design intent and intended and known use?

In simple language, I sell a raw material to a customer who takes my raw material and then designs a product and sells it to a customer who uses it in the field. I wonder where does the ISO standard application stop for the raw material supplier?  How can a raw material supplier under ISO 9001 meet the needs of a customer’s trade secret designs, or further down the intended use of the product where the raw material supplier has no control over how it will be used or maintained?

A: Your question is more a legal one than a quality one. You are offering a product to a customer. This is your finished product and their raw material. When both parties agree to the terms and conditions (payment, form, fit, function, shipping, etc.) a contract exists. We call this a purchase order (PO) and part of that PO is the specification for your product. If they place an order to your spec, you have done the design work under ISO 9001 and they are accepting your design. END OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITY for future application and use. If you accept an order to their spec, they have done the design work and you are obligated to make sure your product meets the stated (and often implied) form/fit/function requirements. We call this quality control and you do this by testing in the lab prior to shipment.

Most firms address the issue of application by stating quite clearly in the contract terms that you are selling your product as-is and you do not warrant the product as fit for ultimate use. This is the kind of thing the lawyers require.

Having said all this, there is a requirement in ISO 9001 for you to measure customer satisfaction. You must state in your manual the concept (strategies) for doing this and have some defined processes – usually called procedures – to carry it out. Of course, part of this is the regular management review. Quality, marketing, and sales all provide input on how well the customer needs are being met. Your registrar should be examining how you do this.

If there is a trend showing that customers are unhappy with how the stuff performs under end-use conditions, ISO says you should address those issues. (Ignoring them is an option, if it is deliberate). Mature firms will work on building customer-supplier partnerships, getting their engineers to talk to your engineers. Although this is technically outside of the quality function, it is still part of your overall quality management system.

Charlie Cianfrani
Consulting Engineer
Green Lane Quality Management Services
Green Lane, PA
ASQ Fellow; ASQ CQE, CRE, CQA, RABQSA Certified QMS-Auditor (Q3558)
ASQ Quality Press Author
Related Content:

Open access resources about supplier quality and product development:

Two Sides of the Same Coin: Using Teams in Customer-Supplier Relationships, Journal for Quality and Participation

In the Know: A BoK dedicated to quality in outsourcing is essential in today’s global marketplace, Quality Progress

The Role of Quality Management Practice in the Performance of Integrated Supply Chains, Quality Management Journal

Has Information About Quality Become a Liability? Quality Progress

Product Liability: Beyond Loss Control — An Argument for Quality Assurance, Quality Management Journal

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Suppliers, supplier management

Q: Can you give me more information about how organizations gain, measure, and retain customer satisfaction and loyalty?

A: The Quality Improvement Glossary, by Donald L. Siebels, defines customer loyalty/retention as “the result of an organization’s plans, processes, practice, and efforts designed to deliver their services or products in ways which create customer satisfaction so customers are retained and committed to remain loyal”.

ASQ has over 200 books, articles, and case studies that focus on the topic of Customer Satisfaction and Value. The following recommended books from ASQ may help to provide additional insight:

The Customer Advocate and The Customer Saboteur
Quality Press, 2012

Measuring Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty, 3rd Ed.
Quality Press, 2008

Strategic Customer Service: Managing the Customer Experience to Increase Positive Word of Mouth, Build Loyalty, and Maximize Profits

AMACOM, 2009

Managing the Customer Experience: A Measurement-Based Approach 

Quality Press, 2007

Beyond the Ultimate Question: A Systematic Approach to Improve Customer Loyalty
Quality Press, 2010

You also may want to take a look at the following articles and case studies:

“Your Customers Are Talking, But Are You Listening?”

Quality Progress, February 2006
The listen, collect, analyze, learn, improve (LCALI) process can help an organization capture important customer data for analysis and action.

“3M Entitlement Quality: Flawless Execution at the Speed of the Customer”

Case Study, April 2009
3M’s approach to enterprise-wide quality improvement for business results and customer satisfaction is a fusion of ISO 9000, Six Sigma, lean, business process management, commercialization, and supplier management, along with a homegrown model, process and product understanding (PPU).

“Challenges With Churn”

Six Sigma Forum Magazine, November 2011
For noncontractual businesses, identifying profitable customers before they take their business elsewhere is important but difficult. These businesses usually have limited information about when these customers churn. Taking a control chart approach similar to statistical process control (SPC) can help develop churn predictive models and identify early churn.

“Supporting Customers and Driving Excellence Through Quality”

Case Study, May 2011
When a key client entered a new line of business, Firstsource Solutions earned the contract to provide inbound customer service and technological support. Metrics showed that 15 percent of calls for the client’s new business were repeat calls, leading to higher costs and lower customer satisfaction scores. A cross-functional Six Sigma team implemented process improvements that lowered the repeat call rate to 9.6 percent.

“An Alternative Approach in Service Quality: An e-Banking Case Study”

Quality Management Journal, January 2008
To remain competitive in today’s business climate, organizations must offer services that not only satisfy their customers, but delight them. SERVQUAL and other measures have been used in the past to measure and improve service quality in the US and Europe, but Japanese quality systems such as Kansei Engineering (KE) and quality function deployment (QFD) offer an alternative way to include the voice of the customer in the development and improvement of service quality systems.

Other helpful web pages include:

ASQ Learn About Quality: Customer Satisfaction

ACSI: The American Customer Satisfaction Index

I hope that this information is helpful.  If you are interested in conducting your own search, you may want to visit the ASQ Knowledge Center.

Best regards,

ASQ Research Librarian
Milwaukee, WI