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Customer satisfaction: How is it monitored?

The ISO 9001 standard has its focus on the customer, and the increase of their satisfaction as one of its main principles. The best way to achieve this goal is through continuous and systematic evaluation of the product or service that the organisation provides, and analysing the fulfillment of the requirements and expectations of its customers throughout the supply cycle.

Monitoring customer satisfaction allows the early identification of problems relating to the quality, performance and functionality of the product or services, and failure to meet customer expectations. The success of an organisation certainly depends on its customers, so understanding the customer’s current and future needs is something of a prerequisite in allowing them to meet their customers’ requirements and exceeding their expectations. There are however some difficulties as to how to perform this satisfaction measurement and, most importantly, how the results can bring significant improvements in the quality management of a company.

What does the standard say?

Requirements such as scope and quality objectives bring the need for customer focus and customer satisfaction. Some items that you will find in the standard regarding this subject are summarised below:

  • Item 5.2 – Customer focus: This item demonstrates that senior management must demonstrate commitment to customer focus and ensure that the increase of customer satisfaction is maintained.
  • Item 6.2.1 – Quality objectives: This item demonstrates that the quality objectives established by the organisation must be relevant to the compliance of products and services and to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Item 9.1.3 – Analysis and evaluation: This item demonstrates that organizations must analyse and evaluate the data and information of the degree of customer satisfaction.
  • Item 9.3.2 – Management critical analysis inputs: This item demonstrates that the critical analysis of senior management must take into account trends related to customer satisfaction.
  • Item 10.1 – Improvement: This item demonstrates that the organisation must make improvements and implement any actions necessary to increase customer satisfaction.

 In addition to all these requirements mentioned above, the standard includes a specific item only regarding customer satisfaction:

“Item 9.1.2 Customer Satisfaction – The organisation must monitor customers’ perception of the degree to which their needs and expectations have been met. The organisation must determine the methods for obtaining, monitoring, and critically analysing this information.”

How to perform customer satisfaction monitoring

 It is clear that customer satisfaction is extremely essential to maintain effective quality management in companies. But how should we perform this customer satisfaction management? The main strategy is to create a systematic method that assesses customers’ perceptions of the degree of satisfaction with their needs and expectations. In this way, the organisation will ensure that all the requirements mentioned above are met.

Each product or service offered by organisations has its characteristics that reflect customer expectations and the quality desired by them. Therefore, after understanding what these expectations are, the company must measure them using a customer satisfaction monitoring method.

Item 9.1.2 of the 2015 version of the standard also contains a note of some examples of how this monitoring of customer perceptions can be carried out eg: customer surveys, customer feedback on products or services delivered, customer meetings, market share analysis, compliments and complaints, warranty claims etc. Most companies use the ‘satisfaction survey’ as the main tool among those exemplified.

How to prepare a customer satisfaction survey

 Below is a step by step guide of how to prepare a customer satisfaction survey that may be effective in monitoring this important requirement in your organisation. It is important to note, however, that some items may vary from company to company. This will depend on your product or service, and how you want to perform this monitoring.

  1. Define who will be responsible for conducting the survey beyond monitoring and measuring customer satisfaction. Generally the sales team is responsible for this activity together with the quality team.
  2. Prepare a satisfaction survey form with questions that will measure the quality of your product and/or service. You can use satisfaction scales that will facilitate and much at the time of reading the data. At the end, always leave a box for compliments or complaints.
  3. Determine which customers will participate in the survey. There are some companies that choose customers based on revenue contribution, but generally speaking, the greater the number of participants, the better the result. Sometimes customers who make few purchases (why?) can bring important data regarding the quality of the product or service.
  4. Define the way the survey will be conducted (email, phone number, letters, or physically).
  5. Train the employees who will conduct this survey with customers. They should be able to explain the purpose of the survey and encourage feedback.
  6. Monitor timing and response rate. Collect all completed survey forms after the stipulated deadline eg  two weeks, but this will vary with each organisation.
  7. Perform an analysis of the data by customer, by category and by classification.
  8. Present the results to the senior management.

How to evaluate the results

After completing all the research, we come to the most important part of this activity – the evaluation of the results. It is at this stage that we apply proposed improvements, and put into practice actions to increase customer satisfaction.

  1. List all items that have been classified as unsatisfactory in the survey and set up meetings with the areas involved to identify the root cause(s) of the problems, and prepare action plans to resolve them.
  1. It is always good form to provide the customer with general feedback on the responses obtained in the survey.
  2. Use customer responses to uncover systemic opportunities for improvement. Include in your risk and opportunity plan (if appropriate).
  3. Monitor whether the proposed actions are being carried out within their initially defined deadlines.
  4. Discuss the results, feedback and actions at scheduled review meetings.
  5. Assess if there is a need to change the scope and/or quality objectives.

It is important that this research is carried out with a defined frequency, and that improvements are incorporated whenever necessary.

How can SoftExpert Survey help?

With its intuitive interface, SoftExpert Survey software allows users to create and publish a questionnaire in a matter of minutes. Questions and pages can be included, and the user can edit the questionnaire according to their preference. A built-in analysis tool also enables deeper analysis of results and better decisions through groupings, filters and cross-referencing of information.

SE Survey is part of SoftExpert’s Enterprise Quality Management (EQM) solution which has been specifically designed to help companies achieve and maintain ISO 9001 certification through a set of automated, highly interactive quality processes which can be tailored to an organisation’s specific products, operations and business practices.

To find out more about SoftExpert Survey and SoftExpert EQM contact mi********@rs**.za

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