No matter what industry you’re in or how big your company is, keeping your customers happy is a top priority. For many companies, it’s important to go the extra mile to demonstrate this dedication to customer satisfaction, and ISO 9001 provides the practical guidelines necessary to do that.
In this article, we’ll explore ISO 9001 clause 9.1. and the link with customer satisfaction. We’ll help you to understand what it all means, why it’s important, and how you can use surveys to make sure you’re meeting the necessary requirements for certification.
What is ISO 9001 and where did it come from?
The International Organisation for Standardization
From the toys that children play with to the food that we eat, the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) is an omnipresent force in all of our lives. Founded in 1947, ISO set International Standards that help to ensure a level of safe, high-quality goods and services for people all over the world. With over twenty thousand standards already set, the work of the organisation is widespread, covering industries from healthcare and telecoms to food safety and more.
The history of ISO 9001
In 1987, the organisation first published ISO 9000 on Quality Management Systems (QMS). This family of standards is designed to give businesses and organisations the guidance they need to consistently improve their products and services. Covering products, services, training, people, facilities and equipment, the standards ensures a high level of quality across an entire organisation. Any company, regardless of industry or size, can implement the ISO 9000 family standards and become compliant.
Like all other ISO standards, ISO 9001 is reviewed every five years to make sure it still remains globally relevant.
The benefits of being ISO 9001 certified
For your business:
- Better assess your business, define objectives, and identify new opportunities.
- Helps you to keep putting your customers first by understanding their needs and enhancing their satisfaction. This can lead to higher customer acquisition and retention.
- Increased efficiency across your business with aligned processes.
- ISO 9001 is a globally recognised standard and some customers and sectors will only work with organisations that are certified.
- It gives you a practical Quality Management System (QMS) for ensuring high quality across your business.
For your customers:
- Reassuring— and sometimes necessary— for customers to know that you are working with global standards that are regularly assessed and approved.
- Higher satisfaction and attention to needs and requirements.
- Higher quality of products and services.
- Increased reliability across the business, which can improve elements like production times and delivery.
A key part of ISO 9001: Analysing and evaluating data
The ISO 9001:2015 standard requires an organisations to collect, analyse and evaluate ‘Quality Management Systems data’. Let’s break down what this actually means:
A Quality Management system (QMS) is a group of business processes that focus on meeting customer requirements and improving satisfaction. So where ISO 9001 highlights analysing and evaluating the ‘data’ linked to these processes, it’s referring to all of the feedback, numbers, stats and tracking that help a business to ensure a quality output— continuously.
The standard specifies 7 areas which should be evaluated by the analysis of data, with customer satisfaction being one of them.
A closer look at ISO 9001 and customer satisfaction
Clause 9.1.2 is the section dealing with customer satisfaction. It sets out what must be achieved to prove and maintain success in this area. To meet these requirements, you need to show that you are monitoring customer perception and how far expectations and needs are being met.
The requirement puts the voice of the customer at centre stage. But simply knowing what your customers think isn’t enough. If you want to meet this requirement, you need to be able to show that you are analysing, evaluating and acting on the customer data that you receive.
The standard lists ways in which companies can work to analyse and evaluate customer satisfaction. These include customer surveys, meetings with customers, customer feedback on products/services, and market-share analysis.
Customer surveys are a good option because they offer a formal, structured way of working with customer feedback. With the right survey software, you can create the surveys to collect customer feedback, analyse the data, and then break it down into reports for key stakeholders. It will also ultimately be easy to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for ISO 9001 certification.
ISO 9001 customer satisfaction surveys
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys
Measuring customer satisfaction with a CSAT survey tool can take a few different forms and use different metrics. One of the most common metrics is CSAT, which measures how satisfied customers are with elements of your business. This metric can be used alone or as part of a larger customer satisfaction survey. You can read more about Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys here.
Sample CSAT questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with your purchase?
- On a scale of ‘Very high quality’ to ‘Very low quality’, how would you rate the quality of the product/service?
- How can we improve our product? (Open-ended for qualitative elaboration)
Customer service surveys
Monitoring complaints is highlighted in the ISO 9001 standard as a valid way of demonstrating your drive to improve satisfaction. Therefore, collecting feedback after customer service interactions is a good way of working towards certification.
Using custom APIs, it’s possible to trigger feedback surveys to be sent immediately after support interactions. Good survey providers will also offer you the option to set up notifications, which can be triggered in the event of negative feedback that requires action.
Sample customer service questions:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your interaction with our customer service department today?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how well was your issue handled by our customer service department?
- Do you agree or disagree that your issue was effective resolved?
Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys
CES surveys help you to find out how easy it is for a customer to interact with your business. This is an important metric for monitoring and improving satisfaction because one of the best ways to keep customers satisfied is to minimise the time and effort it takes to get things done with your company.
Sample CES questions:
- How easy was it to solve your problem?
- On a scale of ‘Very easy’ to ‘Very difficult’, how easy was it to find what you were looking for on our website?
- How easy was it for you to send your first survey?
How to meet the ISO 9001 ‘evaluation’ requirement
It’s not enough to simply send a survey. In order to meet the ISO 9001 customer satisfaction requirement, you need to show that you are interpreting and evaluating the customer data you collect. Before you even send a survey, you should have a plan in place for how you will work with the feedback you receive. Consider the following questions before beginning:
- What customer data do you want to collect and why?
- What is the best customer survey type to collect the data you need?
- Who will be responsible for managing the feedback project?
- How will you analyse and evaluate the data once you have collected it?
Once you’ve planned for your survey project and collected the data, you then need to act on it. With a dedicated survey software, you will be able to carry out in-depth analysis of your customer feedback.
Benchmarking is a good place to start because it will allow you to compare your own performance with regional and industrial standards. With Netigate, you can also set targets in the platform, which allow you to track how well you are working towards your goals. Reporting features like Quick Analysis also make it easy to look at your results over time or break them down into specific segments.
With the right reporting features, you can demonstrate continual improvement when it comes to keeping your customers satisfied.
Other ways to use survey software to meet ISO 9001 requirements
ISO 9001 clause 9.1. requires you to analyse and evaluate 7 key areas relating to your businesses performance. We’ve focused on customer satisfaction in this article, but you can also use surveys to help you with the others.
For example, you can use pulse surveys to analyse the effectiveness of actions taken to address opportunities and risks across your business. Pulse surveys are perfect for quickly gathering feedback on specific business initiatives like this. Similarly, they can be used to evaluate how effective the implementation of planning elements has been.
Finally, ISO 9001 also requires you to assess the performance of your external providers. Before choosing to work with a supplier, you could conduct a supplier survey. These are great for helping you to understand whether third parties will satisfy your criteria and those of ISO 9001.
Once working with a supplier, you can also gather feedback from employees who work closely with them. This will help you to monitor the quality of each supplier’s work, quickly become aware of issues, and identify opportunities for improvement.
Are you currently working with ISO 9001? We can help.
At Netigate, we have a number of survey solutions that can support you in your quest for ISO 9001 certification — just check out our VoC software and customer survey software. You can get started now with a free trial, or book a demo with a friendly member of our team.