Today we are going to talk about a key requirement for ISO 9001:2015. Although the standard contains more than 10 applicable requirements (and many sub-items), we can say that the entire 9001 works to ensure that the “5.1.2 Customer Focus” requirement really works.
After all, increasing customer satisfaction is the focus of ISO 9001. It is clear that the organization of internal processes and activities is present in the standard, but it is in the customer that the standard is really interested.
All improvements and activities proposed by the QMS have the ultimate goal of improving the customer experience and, thus, increasing customer satisfaction. This is because the customer is the most important stakeholder, the one who brings in resources and keeps the organization going.
Today, let’s get to know this requirement and understand a little about its importance. Before analyzing it, let’s look at the item as per the standard:
5.1.2 Focus on the customer
Senior Management must demonstrate leadership and commitment to customer focus, ensuring that:
a) customer requirements and relevant statutory and regulatory requirements are determined, understood and met consistently;
b) the risks and opportunities that could affect product and service compliance and the ability to increase customer satisfaction are determined and addressed;
c) the focus on increasing customer satisfaction is maintained.
We need to meet all “relevant” requirements
Something to emphasize in the standard is that the text makes it clear what requirements we have to meet. She doesn’t specify which ones, even because faced with so many different contexts, that would be impossible.
However, the rule is clear, we need to meet all “relevant” requirements, be they customer, statutory or regulatory. This reinforces, for example, the importance of item 4 as a whole.
It is in requirement 4 that we will analyze the context, determine the needs and expectations of the interested parties and understand these and other fundamental factors for the operation of the company.
If we can make a kind of “counterpoint”, we can say that in item 4 the standard asks us to understand what the customers’ requirements are. Already in 5.2.1 it is established that we need to understand them and attend them consistently.
b) customer-focused opportunities risks
As with all items in the standard, risks and opportunities are also present in this item. Here, specifically focused on eliminating threats to customer satisfaction and seizing opportunities that help achieve it.
Something that is worth mentioning, however, is that the risks are not just to make the customer satisfied. Risks that prevent us from increasing satisfaction also need to be identified and addressed!
This is because one of the pillars of ISO 9001 (and quality management) is continuous improvement. So, it is not enough to serve the customer today, it is necessary to satisfy them and increase their satisfaction over time. So, it is necessary to be able to provide improvement in satisfaction, always! And this is directly linked to the last item in the requirement:
“c) the focus on increasing customer satisfaction is maintained.”
With each passing day, the market’s qualification level increases, and that means more competition. Therefore, there is no point in keeping the customer satisfied, it is necessary to continually increase their satisfaction.
And the continuous increase in satisfaction that ensures greater market share and makes the big players in the market what they are.
Moreover, staying focused on this helps to better map customer needs, helping the business to contain threats and seize market opportunities.
The customer is the company’s source of income, so he needs to be the main focus of the business. That’s why ISO 9001 gives such importance to this interested party.
How can the company meet the 5.2.1 Customer Focus requirement?
It should be noted that requirement 5.2.1 will only be fully met if the Quality Management System is really focused on the customer. Of course, several items on it can be mapped (and should), such as customer requirements and the risks involved. But just mapping these factors does not mean meeting the requirement, let alone focusing on the customer.
When auditing this item, we need to understand how the company, as a whole, views the customer. Does a system that does not properly handle customer complaints, for example, or does not provide effective after-sales, constantly increase customer satisfaction?
It is necessary to understand that a good quality management system is one that works fully to determine, understand and consistently serve the customer. Otherwise, all the company does is create processes, procedures, and documented information that meet the standard.