The primary focus of a Quality management system is to meet customer requirements/needs and exceed customer’s expectations. I am sure you would have seen this bold statement (policy) somewhere on the wall of notable organisations.
So, what does this statement truly means?
Perhaps an understanding of who a customer is will help. So, who is a customer?
A customer is a person or organization that could or does receive a product or a service that is intended for or required by this person or organization. Examples include consumer, client, end-user, retailer, the receiver of product or service from an internal process, beneficiary, and buyer.
Therefore, a customer can be internal (another department/function in the organisation) or external to the organisation (e.g., stakeholders, regulatory and statutory bodies, etc.).
Based on this definition, a broader understanding of customer focus is needed.
The first is that your customer has a need that has to be met. So, start by defining what their need(s) is/are. This is crucial across all aspects of the business, from design and development, production/construction/installation, pricing/contracting, delivery/execution, after-sales support and any other area of the organisation that has an impact on the relationship with the customer. Satisfied customers will be repeat customers, they will also provide a positive reference to other potential customers, both of which are important to have a business prosper and grow. Understanding what customers require, adapt to suit their changing requirements and improving the quality of service is an excellent route.
There is a need to also find a balance between customers and other interested parties. Customers/Clients (external) are not the only parties who have a role or an interest in the success of a business. Others include your employees (internal customers), vendors (suppliers), shareholders, the local/host community, government, statutory and regulatory bodies, all of whom are referred to as interested parties. Understanding their respective needs and comparing them with that of the customer’s needs will ensure a 360 approach to exceed customer expectations, a greater level of service and a better understanding of areas for improvement.
Also, these needs and expectations should be communicated throughout the organisation. Both customer’s needs and interested parties’ expectations should be communicated and properly understood throughout the organisation. This ensures that from the entry-level to the top management, in all the functional areas, are committed to striving towards meeting these needs and expectations. This plays an important role in an effective quality management process.
Lastly, Monitoring customer satisfaction and acting on feedback. Customer satisfaction is imperative to any business, no matter the size or complexity, or what the industry may be. Therefore, seek feedbacks, conduct questionnaire, surveys, etc. Feedbacks (positive or negative) should be monitored, rated carefully, analysed, and all results should be acted on to allow customers to know that the organisation values their input. All feedback should be seen to foster continuous improvement and should be addressed quickly and efficiently.
In Conclusion, managing customer relations i.e., Maintaining relationships with interested and providers in the supply chain. This is by far the most important aspect of a customer-focused organisation. This is referred to as relationship management. It is essential to maintain and grow relations with clients and interested parties fairly and honestly.