customer satisfaction

Writing a Nonconformance (NCR)

NCR can find broken processes and really help with profit improvement "A problem well stated is a problem half solved." - Charles F. Kettering, American Inventor & Social Philosopher

The first step in solving a problem is to ensure you fully understand what the problem actually is. I regularly see horrible examples of this in practice inside some of the companies I work with. One classic example was in Atlanta, GA a few years ago. Here is the scenario...

Operations Manager: "What the h@!! is going on? Logistics has dropped the ball again! Our #1 line is down because they can't get their heads out of their a$$e$ and keep up with ordering the resin we need. This is our biggest customer!"

The scenario, at least in the mind of the Operations Manager, was that the Jack-Wagons working over in the Logistics Department simply couldn't count. I didn't buy it. In this case, as in most cases where suppositions seem a bit unlikely, I decided to do something I typically do during an audit - walk the audit trail by following the process upstream. This seems like such an obvious move... 1. There's a problem. 2. Walk the trail to find out the source. 3. Ask questions and "show me, show me, show me". HOWEVER, in many organizations, the minute an employee crosses the line into another department he/she is outside of their home turf. A defensive culture will likely breed a departmental approach (staying in your own neighborhood) versus a process approach. If you are not familiar with the process approach, you can learn more about this methodology here from a March 2011 post.

After walking the trail and crossing the territorial boundaries of Production into Scheduling and on to Logistics, I was able to trace back the material in the ERP system with the status "On Hand" and location "Op 120" -  which was the Molding Operations where I had started my hunt. After circling back around to the Operations Manager and hearing another string of Logistics bashing, I started to do some real snooping in the surrounding areas.

Standing at what I'd like to call the base camp of "Mount Unknown Product", I rolled up my sleeves like a eager bidder on Storage Wars and sifted through stacks of components, raw materials and residual miscellaneous. No luck there, although I noted the lack of control and visited that area later in the audit. After asking several questions of several Molding Operators, one of the ladies jumped in with "Oh yeah, that's probably that skid over there in the corner." Sure enough, the skid we were looking for was off in the corner with a simple 2"x2" yellow sticky label on it marked "BAD PRODUCT".

After pointing out to the Operations Manager that the source of the problem was likely one of his team members as opposed to those fools in Logistics, I asked him to consider a better solution. I then pointed out how I would be writing a Nonconformance Report for this finding, and how my nonconformance statement would clearly define the problem at hand. I jokingly stated, "If you want, I can write this NCR in a similar way as that sticky note? I can simply write 'Bad Process' and let you try to remember what I actually meant." He didn't think it was funny.

There were several missing links to the materials and inventory control process I observed during this audit; none that included someone coming to work deliberately trying to screw things up. Links that were obviously broken were the identification of product, controlling suspect or known nonconforming product, use of approved documentation and recording the instance of a nonconformity. An important transactional control was also missing, which was the signal used to notify Logistics that the parts were now unavailable. That signal should have been an ERP move from "Op 120" to "Op 120 Hold". That move to Op 120 Hold would have signaled the Logistics group to order another batch of components in order to keep the customer's order moving forward.

At the end of the day, the use of a simple 1-page Nonconformance Report (NCR) that forces the Originator to follow a simple process checklist (i.e. Yes/No - Did you move product out of IN PROCESS into a PRODUCT HOLD Operations?) may have prevented a late shipment. By the way, the company's poorest performing KPI (key process indicator) was "% On Time Delivery". This KPI was also tied to their variable compensation profit sharing process.

Nonconformance Report (NCR)

Here is an example of a simple NCR Form that may be useful in improving YOUR bonus payout. Click on the image to launch the product and view the PDF or download the native version. Who would have thought a simple form could make your customer and your wallet happier?

Cheers,

Jim Blog Signature

Development of ISO 9001:2015

With ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 currently in the development stages for what could be rather significant changes, quality and environmental professionals gather on the fringes to get a sneak peek of what's to come. Before speculating on projected changes, let's first review the process for the development of ISO standards. Stages of Standard Development

  1. New Work Item (NWIP)
  2. Working Draft (WD)
  3. Committee Draft (CD) - Often times there may be CD1, CD2, etc. for multiple drafts
  4. Draft International Standard (DIS)
  5. Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)
  6. Published International Standard (IS), Technical Report (TR) or Technical Specification (TS)

ISO Standards Development SequenceThe current stage in which the ISO 9001 sits is at "ISO/CD 9001" as of June 3rd, 2013. This means that the document is at "CD" Stage (#3), with a due date for submission of comments and votes on this draft by September 10th, 2013. Significant chatter typically means that there could be a second or perhaps even a third round within the committee draft (CD) stage. While the expectations for release in the "IS" phase is in the year 2015 - hence the frequently referenced ISO 9001:2015 - the final release depends directly upon the voting member bodies. Publication as an "International Standard" requires approval by at least 75% of the member bodies casting a vote.

Stay tuned to the updates by registering to attend our free ISO 9001:2015 Forums.

K. Bird, Head Communication & Content Strategies for ISO posts, "Experts continue to meet to discuss any problems or questions highlighted, until a Draft International Standard is published. The draft then goes out for public comment. Anyone who is interested can contact their national member body with feedback on the draft standard. This is likely to take place during the first half of 2014."

With regard to your current use of ISO 9001:2008, Bird continues by saying "We expect to publish the new version of ISO 9001:2008 by the end of 2015. At that point there will be a transition period (usually two years) before ISO 9001:2008 officially becomes out of date."

So what are some of the projected changes that may be significant to you and your organization?

  1. The replacement of the term "product" with "goods and services". For years, service organizations (like Concentric) have felt a bit left out due to the constant use of the word "product". What if you don't have a physical product? This potential change in terminology could help service organizations better understand how ISO 9001 requirements pertain to them.
  2. Context of the term "the organization". There may be requirements to better clarify what "the organization" means as it pertains to the intent of it's offerings, the context of it's offerings, what an interested party might expect from it's goods and services, and how customer needs are defined.
  3. Process approach. This addition may require subscribers to better adopt the process approach by adding requirements that actually use the words "process approach" rather than hiding this intent in a preface or supplemental document such as ISO 9004. No one cares about how great your department is. We only care about how great your process output is.
  4. Risk vs. preventive action. This is the change that we're rooting the most for - with spirit and banter! Most folks don't really understand what the hell "preventive action" is anyway. However, "risk" is fairly well understood. Most companies we work with have hundreds of corrective actions (reactive), but very little evidence to show deliberate and methodical steps for risk reduction/mitigation or emergency preparedness (proactive). In my opinion, this change is welcome and long overdue. It would also allow for a better integration with standards in health, safety, environmental and responsible care management systems.
  5. Documented information. The terms previous referred to separately as "document" and "records" may be replaced by a single term referred to as "documented information".
  6. Control of external provision of goods and services. This potential change may not be as significant to some sectors such as automotive and aerospace, as the requirements for controlling outsources processes have been backed into ISO/TS 16949 and AS9100 for some time now. This potential addition to the ISO 9001 standard would require controls to be in place for all forms of external influences on goods and services. In short, it may be harder to say "Hey... it's my suppliers fault!" once the new standard is released.

Whatever changes do finally come from the ISO 9001 updates, we here at Concentric are very hopeful that the standard encourages organizations and practitioners alike to bridge the gap between the priorities of top management and management system implementers. Developing systems that maximize the potential of any organization is depend on a unified approach to managing individual processes. Having multiple systems, conflicting objectives and a "silo" approach to management is still one of the great challenges of our generation. I am confident that the next release of ISO 9001 will continue to improve management system structure as organizations worldwide continue to strive towards excellence.

Stay tuned to the updates by registering to attend our free ISO 9001:2015 Forums.

Customers Hate You?

Here's a quick challenge and reality check to ring in the 2nd month of 2012.  Take an honest look at your customer-facing processes as if you were the customer.  I'm not talking about "...but our company's internal data for defects per million shows that we're making pretty good parts".  I'm talking about taking a long, hard look at customer perception.  How does your customer perceive the overall quality, service and ease of doing business associated with their relationship with you? Customer satisfaction is not always about facts, figures and statistics.  Sometimes it's all about asking this simple question:  "Dear Mr. Customer - How likely it is that you would actually take the time to recommend me to a friend or colleague?"

Do you measure customer satisfaction by the number of customer complaints you have?

The lack of a formal customer complaint is not a reliable indicator that the customer is satisfied.  Customer complaints are more often a sign that the customer is so extremely dissatisfied that they feel obligated or angry enough to tell you about it.  What about the other portion of customers that simply turn and walk away?  In most business circumstances, by the time a customer has left you, its too late to regain their trust.  You've lost them and they're not coming back.  In fact, there are a certain set of customers that will spend their nights and weekends talking trash about you, your company and their horrible experiences in dealing with your sorry butt.

Ok... now that I've made you feel like a complete loser, let's at least have a little fun here.  Sit back, grab your cup of coffee and feel the pain associated with being a dissatisfied customer.

Want to gauge your customer's perception of you?  Here are some tips and techniques that we've seen work out in the real world:

SIMPLE & LOW COST:  Ask your customer to help you in getting 100% by partnering with you on the solution of 100% satisfaction.  Rather than asking "Is everything ok?", try asking "What would I have to do in order to receive an A+ or 100% rating?"  This approach invites the customer to give you pointers on improvement rather than the traditional invitation for feedback (i.e. "Y'all doing ok?").  By making it an "Us (you and your customer) against them (bad grades)" you create a partnering perspective with your customers in order to solve the puzzle (how to get an A+) together.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD:  Use a process to measure how likely your customers to "promote" your organization called by using a grading scale called the "Net Promoter Score".  Learn more about this process here:  www.netpromoter.com/np/calculate.jsp

COMPLEX & HIGHER COST:  If you are in an organization that can spare a few more bucks, consider using a product like Online Survey Software from Qualtrics.  It is complex software on the back end but simple for your customers to complete on the front end.  Questionnaires and data from survey results are kept on a cloud for simple analysis, quick feedback on-going monitoring of key metrics.  www.qualtrics.com/survey-software-video