ISO 9001 – Just another tick in the box?
When the management team first discussed the process to gain ISO certification there was a genuine sense that we could improve the way we operate and gain some quantifiable evidence that the service we provide to our clients was as good as our perception.
There were some fears at the outset that gaining certification would be difficult, longwinded and entail endless amounts of documentation but we hoped the result would be worthwhile. We chose BSI, who advised us on the process and they were optimistic that whilst there were many documents to write and much evidence to be gathered, the fact that we were well organized meant we should expect to achieve certification within approx 9 months.
Due to the sterling efforts of our Operations Manager, Jasmin Schneider, who adopted the role of Quality Manager, and our Glasgow Branch Manager, Sam Bennett who trained and qualified as a QA Auditor, work commenced quickly after the initial meeting with BSI.
Mapping out procedures and work instructions for the Quality Management System was a fairly major task but was completed in 3 months. The next stage of implementing any changes to the current way of working and then gathering data through audits and measuring KPIs took rather longer.
When BSI came back to do their external audit in November the auditor was extremely complimentary about the standard of our system and the evidence which clearly showed that the system was working. Basically all issues resulting from the data are reviewed at every monthly management meeting and if required corrective actions are decided on and put in place.
It really works! As one example we have flushed things out that we were unaware of previously and we felt that we had so few complaints before that everything was fine. Sometimes complaints do not surface unless you seek them out. Practically every survey response yielded 10/10 so we improved the system of gaining client feedback and targeted a much higher response level. We also logged all internally raised issues with suppliers as complaints so that they would be investigated and included in the monthly review.
Jasmin actually said “All these perfect 10/10 responses with no suggestions of what we could do better are nice but they don’t help us!”
The result is that now, despite previous excellent customer retention, a very low level of complaints and highly motivated staff we can, with clear evidence, say that we have still reduced complaints, very significantly increased feedback, improved our service, grown our business and our staff are as motivated as ever!
To any business genuinely seeking to improve its performance ISO certification is definitely not just a tick in a box!