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Customer complaint –what shall we do?


Qualitywise.pl, Agata Lewkowska, customer complaints, IATF 16949

As an organization certified to ISO 9001: 2015 and IATF 16949: 2016, we have certain obligations towards the client. First, we are obliged to provide the customer with our products and services in accordance with the requirements. However, despite our efforts to meet the requirements, a non-compliant product or service arises, which results in a customer complaint. But what should we do then?

Customer complaint – don’t panic!

First, let’s use the “signpost” that we have contained in the requirements of ISO9001: 2015 and IATF 16949: 2016. Here we will find specific information on how we should respond.

So, let’s start with ISO 9001:2015

Let’s move on to the point 10.2 for nonconformities and corrective actions. Let me remind you that this standard is obligatory for organizations certifying their system in accordance with IATF 16949: 2016.

Here we find the requirement that in the event of ANY complaint, the organization should:

a) respond to nonconformity and:

1.take actions to control and correct,

2. deal with the consequences,

b) assess the need for action to eliminate the cause of the nonconformity, to prevent its recurrence or occur elsewhere, by:

1.reviewing and analyzing nonconformities,

2.determining the causes of nonconformities,

3.determining whether similar nonconformities exist or may happen,

c) implement the necessary actions,

d) review the effectiveness of the corrective actions taken,

e) update risks and opportunities which were determined during planning, if necessary,

f) make changes to the QMS, if necessary.

ISO 9001:2015, clause 10.2

Of course, you should also remember to adjust the corrective actions to the effects of the identified non-conformities. This means that we will act differently when we are dealing with a recurring action because of a complaint, and differently when the complaint concerns a non-compliant label.

Additionally, remember to retain documented information as evidence:

a) the nature of the noncompliance and any subsequent action,

b) the results of any corrective actions taken.

Customer complaint in IATF 16949:2016

Complaints’ requirements can be found primarily in the IATF standard in point 10.2.6. Customer complaints and field failure test analysis. At this point, the organization is required to:

  • Perform an analysis of customer complaints and field failures for ANY part returned.
  • Begin problem solving and corrective actions to prevent them from happening again.
  • Upon customer request, perform an analysis of the interaction of embedded software in the product within the system of the final customer’s product.
  • Communicate test / analysis results to the client as well as within the organization.

Customer complaint – is there anything else?

Let’s not forget about other requirements that are related to customer complaints:

10.2.3 Problem solving

First, let’s remember about 10.2.3 regarding the problem solving it says:

Document a problem-solving process to prevent problems from reoccurring, including:

  • defined approach to distinct types and scale of problems (e.g., new product development, current production issues, field failures, audit findings),
  • actions limiting the effects of defects/containment, temporary actions, related actions necessary to control non-compliant results,
  • root cause analysis including methods, analyzes and results used,
  • implementation of systemic corrective actions: is there an impact on similar processes and products?
  • verification of the effectiveness of the implemented corrective actions,
  • review and update of relevant documented information (e.g., process FMEA, control plan).

Use customer-specified problem-solving processes, tools, or systems, unless otherwise approved by the customer.

6.1.2.1 Risk analysis

Remember to include results from the complaint in your risk analysis.

8.5.1.1 Control plan

Requirement for updating the control plan: a customer complaint has been received and appropriate corrective actions have been implemented. Of course, the update of the control plan should take place here only if applicable.

8.5.5.1 Feedback from the service

Remember to establish, implement and maintain the process of communicating information regarding complaints from the service to the areas of: manufacturing, material handling, logistics, technology and design.

9.1.2.1 Customer satisfaction – supplemental

Customer satisfaction with the organizational shall be monitored through continual evaluation of internal and external performance indicators to ensure compliance to the product and process specifications and other customer requirements.

Here performance indicator shall refer to delivered part quality performance.

9.2.2.1 Internal audit program

The frequency of audits specified in the internal audit program should be adjusted based on, inter alia, internal and external non-conformities and / or customer complaints.

Get your own template for customer complaint management!

I encourage you to download the template for customer complaint management that I have prepared for you. You can use it in your work by editing it as you like.

Hope you found the article interesting.

Thank you for your presence.

Agata Lewkowska Ph.D.

PS. If I can help you with quality management issues, please contact me. You may also join me in my private group on Facebook: ISO 9001 & IATF 16949 QualityWise Group.

For people who want to know more:

IATF 16949: 2016 Requirements for quality management systems in serial production and the production of spare parts in the automotive industry, 1st edition, 2016

ISO 9000:2015 Quality management systems — Fundamentals and vocabulary

ISO 9001:2015 Quality management systems — Requirements

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