Customer Satisfaction

Organizations of all types and sizes have come to realize that their main focus must be to satisfy their customers.

This applies to industrial firms, retail and wholesale businesses, government bodies, service companies, nonprofit organizations and every subgroup within an organization.

Two important questions:

  1. Who are the customers?
  2. What does it take to satisfy them?

Who Are the Customers?

Customers include anyone the organization supplies with products or services. The table below illustrates some supplier-customer relationships. (Note that many organizations are simultaneously customers and suppliers.)

Supplier-customer relationship examples
Supplier Customer Product or Service
Automobile manufacturer Individual customers Cars
Automobile manufacturer Car dealer Sales literature, etc.
Bank Checking account holders Secure check handling
High school Students and parents Education
County recorder Residents of county Maintenance of records
Hospital Patients Healthcare
Hospital Insurance company Data on patients
Insurance company Hospital Payment for services
Steel cutting department Punch press department Steel sheets
Punch press department Spot weld department Shaped parts
All departments Payroll department Data on hours worked, etc.

What Does It Take to Satisfy Customers?

Don’t assume you know what the customer wants. There are many examples of errors in this area, such as software that isn’t updated to meet current market expectations and car models that don’t sell. Many organizations expend considerable time, money and effort determining the “voice” of the customer, using tools such as customer surveys, focus groups and polling.

Satisfying the customer includes providing what is needed when it’s needed. In many situations, it’s up to the customer to provide the supplier with requirements. For example, the payroll department should inform other departments of the exact format for reporting the numbers of hours worked by employees. If the payroll department doesn’t do this job properly, it bears some responsibility for the variation in reporting that will occur.

Excerpted from The Certified Quality Technician Handbook, pages 1-2.

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