Part 2: Customer Focus
(For Part 1: click here)
The first Quality Management System (QMS) principle is to have a customer focus. Customer focus is so vitally important and so deeply intrinsic to a good QMS, that it should really be titled “The First Law And Most Important Principle of Quality Management Systems Bar None”.
If you look at successful organisations that have focused on quality, Apple immediately springs to mind. Apple has an unwavering focus on the customer and the customer experience with their products and services. Even if you’re not an Apple fan yourself, it’s impossible to deny that people who love Apple really love Apple. Apple puts the customer front and centre, and is rewarded with enormous loyalty.
Take a leaf from Apple’s book and consider the impact of every part of your quality management system on the customer. Yes, every part. This process begins by being very clear about knowing who your customers are, both internal and external.
Once you are clear about who your customers are, you can start delving into the detail.
Here at Mango we’ve been creating our own Quality Management System (QMS). Some of the questions we’ve been debating, analysing and discussing are:
- When developing our software we ask ourselves “who is the customer for this feature?”
- When supporting the product we always consider “what is the customer asking?”
- When implementing the software on-site we determine “what are the customer requirements?”
- During inductions of staff we talk about “what will make us successful in the eyes of the customer?”
The requirements of your customers aren’t something you leave to the marketing department so that you can focus on calibration, training and perhaps safety. The customer should be at the heart of every decision you as a QMS professional makes.
I talked about customer satisfaction previously in a blog called “Customer Satisfaction - The Beating Heart of Quality Management”. I said that “the bottom line is that if you’re in quality, you are in the job of enhancing customer satisfaction. Not spreadsheet proliferation, meeting attendance or minute writing - but enhancing customer satisfaction.” Print that out and re-read it every morning before you start doing anything. It will help you to focus on what’s really important.
Once you’ve worked out the requirements of the customer, you can then build that into your quality management system. Following that, it’s a matter of doing what ISO talks about, namely striving to exceed customer expectations. Exceeding expectations will help you achieve customer satisfaction and earn a ton of customer love (think of those millions of devoted Apple fans).
Back in the day when I was working for a Certification Body auditing Quality Management Systems for ISO 9001, I saw Quality Managers having little or no knowledge of customer requirements. It was always someone else’s problem. At Mango we don’t want to be in that situation. Neither do you.
- Identify your customers with each of your teams (both internal and external).
- Determine the customer’s requirements for each area of the company.
- Communicate those customer requirements throughout the organization so that everyone has an understanding.
- Start to measure customer satisfaction.
Continued in Part 3 - How to Implement a QMS and Achieve ISO 9001 Certification - Part 3: Leadership