In the Loop

Use 8D reports to track the status of customer complaints

by Matthew Barsalou

An 8D report is a quality report suppliers use to inform a customer about the status of complaint-related actions. This type of report is often used in the automotive industry, but can and should be used in other industries.

The name 8D report refers to the eight disciplines (or steps) that must be taken when managing a customer claim.1 An 8D report is typically created in either a template or generated by a complaints management program. The exact layout varies from organization to organization.

The top of the 8D report, however, always contains useful administrative information. The issue should be assigned an individual report number and a descriptive issue name for tracking purposes. The part number and description of the claimed part also should be listed. It can be helpful to include the customer and the supplier’s numbers as well. With each version, include the date that the claim was raised and the date of the latest revision.

Following the administrative details, the first step is to form and list an interdisciplinary team. A team leader must be designated, and there should be a champion available to support the team. Often, the champion will be a member of management responsible for the department in which the problem is thought to have originated. Additional team members from departments potentially affected also must be designated.

The next step is the problem description. This may sound simple, but it is a critical step for properly investigating the issue. The problem description should describe the problem as viewed by the customer, not the organization. Also, don’t forget to include the number of reported units.

The root cause analysis (RCA) section may be the longest, and if necessary, it can continue on a second page. The RCA summary should provide the customer with confidence that the root cause has been understood and verified. It also should describe the quality tools used to investigate the problem.

The RCA summary can be used as documentation if a customer complaint is rejected. Evidence that the part in question is not the cause of the customer’s problem should be detailed. Simply writing "complaint rejected" is not an acceptable response to a customer complaint.

The next section contains a description of the planned corrective actions. These actions should be based on the root cause and must be verified to ensure that they will correct the problem. It also is important to ensure corrective actions don’t introduce a new problem. The planned implementation date should be listed along with the name of the person responsible for implementing the actions. The implemented corrective actions are listed together with the date they were implemented.

After the problem has been corrected, actions must be taken to ensure it can’t recur elsewhere. This covers comparable products or processes as well as future products that may have the same problem. Typical actions include updating failure mode and effects analysis for designs or processes, as well as updating the control plan. The final step in the 8D is to congratulate the team members for their contributions.


  1. Laurie Rambaud, 8D Structured Problem Solving: A Guide to Creating High Quality 8D Reports, second edition, PHRED Solutions, 2011.

Matthew Barsalou is a statistical problem resolution Master Black Belt (MBB) at BorgWarner Turbo Systems Engineering GmbH in Kirchheimbolanden, Germany. He has a master’s degree in business administration and engineering from Wilhem Büchner Hoschschule in Darmstadt, Germany, and a master’s degree in international business and global political economy from Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS. An ASQ senior member, Barsalou is an ASQ-certified quality technician and engineer, Six Sigma Black Belt, and manager of quality/organizational excellence. He is a Smarter Solutions-certified lean Six Sigma MBB, a technical reviewer for QP, editor of the Statistics Division’s Statistics Digest and the ASQ country counselor for Germany.

--Qaiser Iqbal, 06-29-2017

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