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Volume 8 · Issue 7 · May 2003


ISO 9000 Definition of "Customer Satisfaction" Expands
TC 176 to Work on Dispute Resolution and Codes of Conduct

ISO Technical Committee (TC) 176 has agreed to assume responsibility for the development of two new guidelines documents that will join the ISO 9000 series once completed.
The two new work item proposals (NWIPs) to be developed are:

  • ISO 10001, External customer dispute resolution systems
  • ISO 10002, Market based codes of conduct.

Both lie outside of the traditional concepts of quality management and quality assurance that mark the other ISO 9000 standards and both have been assigned to Subcommittee (SC) 3, Supporting Technologies. They nevertheless relate to how an organization manages its processes in dealing with customers and other interested parties in line with ISO 9004:2000’s recommendations for performance improvement of a quality management system (QMS).

Although Working Groups (WGs) will be formed for each of the two NWIPs, TC 176/SC 3 is developing a project structure that will also include ISO 10018, Complaints handling—Guidelines for organizations, which is presently at the Draft International Standard (DIS) stage of development. Dr. Kemaghan Webb of the Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs has been asked to serve as project leader.

The linkage of the two NWIPs with ISO/DIS 10018 within the project structure is being done "to ensure maximum compatibility between these three related subjects," stated Annemarie de Jong, Secretary of SC 3 of TC 176, in a May 8, 2003, letter to the participating member bodies (P-members) of SC 3. The letter announced both the delegation of the two NWIPs to SC 3 and requested the nomination of experts for the two WGs. According to de Jong, the two new WGs will meet for the first time in Bucharest, Romania, during the plenary meeting of ISO/TC 176 October 20-24, 2003.

These NWIPs were proposed by the ISO Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO) to address issues of interest and/or concern to consumers. Like ISO/DIS 10018, which will provide guidelines for the handling of complaints by organizations, the NWIPs for ISO 10001 and ISO 10002 grew out of consumer advocacy concerns.

In the case of ISO/NWIP 10001, the concern is with the processes organizations have in place to resolve disputes with external customers, particularly customers that are consumers rather than businesses after internal processes have failed. Thus, the intent is to provide guidance on setting a process that will resolve disputes, whether the customer is a consumer or a business. The NWIP’s statement of scope indicates that such dispute resolution systems "would be available for either a business or its customer to give an avenue of appeal when a supplier cannot remedy a complaint internally."

The concern behind ISO/NWIP 10002 is with the need for organizations to establish codes of conduct for their business practices, with the codes to be market-based. "Dr. Webb has defined codes of conduct as ‘a set of voluntary commitments agreed to by one or more parties designed to influence or control behaviour to be applied in a consistent manner’," reported Robin R. Gildersleeve, who is Communications Director for the US QEDS (Quality, Environmental, Dependability and Statistics) Standards Group and a member of the US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 176. "He was paraphrasing the definition contained in Voluntary Codes: A Guide to Their Development and Use, published by the Office of Consumer Affairs in Canada."

Gildersleeve also indicated that the NWIP scope for ISO 10002 states that "it is to give guidelines for code development and implementation to ensure that claims about codes can be substantiated and are verifiable. The standard should not prescribe what should be the content of the codes." In other words, it will be up to each individual organization to develop codes specific to its market(s) and needs.

Each P-member of TC 176/SC 3 has been asked to submit the names of experts to serve on the two WGs that will develop the new work items. In the request for experts, de Jong noted that there is a need to have the active participation of the following types of experts in order to effectively draft these two standards:

  1. Representatives of consumer interest groups
  2. "Product providers" in various sectors of the global economy
  3. Individuals with experience in the standardization work of ISO/TC 176.

The names of the individuals each P-member is nominating to serve on one or both WGs and who will attend the first meeting in Bucharest need to be submitted to SC 3 by August 10, 2003. While existing P-member delegates to TC 176 clearly satisfy the third type of expert and there are adequate experts with the second type of background, the first type of expert will be the most difficult but important to recruit.

Gildersleeve Appointed to Serve as US TG Leader
The US TAG is fortunate to have a solid group having the second and third types of backgrounds sought for experts to the new WGs, but the challenge is in recruiting effective experts that represent consumer interest groups. Partially for this reason, Jack West, Chair of the US TAG, in concurrence with Dan Harper, who leads the US delegation to SC 3, has appointed Gildersleeve, who is President of INFORM and Director of Communications for THE OUTLOOK as well as QEDS Communications Director, to lead the US task group (TG) that will develop the US positions on and provide the US Experts to the two WGs drafting ISO 10001 and ISO 10002.

Gildersleeve has accepted the position and is focused on identifying and recruiting experts that represent the full range of consumer interest groups in the United States. "I have accepted this position because I think these work items will become an important component of the ISO 9000 series regarding customer satisfaction issues, and I think that my communication skills will serve our TAG well as we develop these new standards" remarked Gildersleeve. "I see my role mainly as a facilitator—bringing qualified experts on these subjects together and helping them reach a consensus in developing these two new standards. I will represent the US positions on ISO 10001 and ISO 10002 internationally, and Jack West will be looking for me to work effectively with the delegations of other countries and to persuade them to our way of thinking."

Gildersleeve emphasized that the US TAG is looking to recruit participants who have experience in customer-related issues. "In the case of ISO 10001, we need experts who can develop US positions on and help draft guidelines for establishing a set of consensus-based, essential criteria for developing and implementing external customer dispute resolution systems that will be available for either a business or its customer," stressed Gildersleeve. "In essence, these systems will provide an avenue of appeal when a supplier cannot remedy a complaint directly with its customer(s).

"For ISO 10002, there is a need for experts who can develop US positions on and help draft a standard that will enhance fair trade in the marketplace by harmonizing the use of claims about codes of conduct. The intent of these guidelines will be to enable an organization to make accurate, verifiable claims that are thus not misleading and will result in a reduction in marketplace confusion, facilitate international trade, increase opportunities for more informed purchasing decisions and improve the quality of codes presently being used in the marketplace."

According to Gildersleeve, these two WGs will not be writing specific codes or setting forth specifics regarding how dispute resolution is to be conducted. "We will be developing the process for organizations to follow in formulating these systems or codes for themselves." The goal for ISO 10002, as defined in the NWIP, is to provide optimal levels of consumer protection that can be applied on a global level within individual jurisdictions and across jurisdictions, with the end result being the improvement of an organization’s processes and the creation of a more positive image.

"When the US TAG meets August 27 and 28, this task group will need to focus on preparing US positions on what these two standards need to be and need to provide to the user community," explained Gildersleeve. "This is an opportunity to develop standards that will support the use of quality management systems in all types of organizations by addressing customer-oriented needs that are not contained in customer specifications and ensure public confidence in the processes and practices of those organizations. Stockholders, consumer groups and customers want to know the organization is prepared to operate in today’s marketplace and to do so in an effective and efficient manner, whether we are talking about production processes or management processes."

Gildersleeve is still interested in hearing from individuals from companies and consumer interest groups that would be interested in participating on the US and/or international levels. Although SC 3 has requested a list of experts for the WGs by August 10, that does not mean the US TAG is not interested in having new members attend the Washington meeting of the TG. For more information, please contact Gildersleeve by e-mail (

THE OUTLOOK will provide coverage of developments involving these NWIPs and other standards being drafted in the ISO 9000 series.