I realised a long time ago that trying to assign categories to Customer Complaints was a walk in a thick fog and wasted a lot of time, including my own. Category errors can be a major source of dysfunction in a business, but the pain of trying to fit customer complaints into a category straitjacket can be avoided.

I identify first of all where the complaint occurred, who was involved, then the cause.

Where did the complaint emerge? (the point of use for the product or service).

Who was involved? (including the customer who made the complaint). Consider anyone involved with the application of the quality system (standard); e.g., management responsibility and authority, Document Control (including CM), contract review, ship movement, software development, processes, Procurement (purchasing and suppliers), all of whom are included in the quality system.

What was the cause? This requires Relentless Root Cause Analysis. For example, a review of NCRs (open and closed) could reveal that corrective action was not implemented in sufficient time to prevent the effect on the customer. But remember that an incorrect procedure might not be the only fly in the ointment. Insufficient training could be the culprit.

This approach does not mean introducing new vocabulary into the organisation. The current processes and procedures can be maintained. The resulting information is much more likely to produce satisfactory results for the customer and (more important) prevent the same, or similar complaints occurring again.

It is worth noting that Standards Boards are clamping down on Certification Body reports which contain nonconformances closed out with insufficient root cause analysis. Also the OEMs have been complaining directly to the Standards Boards on this issue.

I am pleased to say that Qualidoc covers the standards comprehensively, but I am always working towards perfection!

See Control of Nonconformity, Quality Policy, Quality Assurance Procedure and Quality System Internal Audit Checklist.

Qualidoc ISO Cheat SheetQMS Training: useful questions

An image of the Qualidoc ISO cheat sheet

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