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Case Study
  • Chemical

Eastman Chemical's Success Story

Quality Progress
June 2003
Volume 36 Issue 6
pp. 50-54
Hallen, Gary; Latino, Robert J.
Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, TN, Reliability Center, Inc., Hopewell, VA


The costs associated with customer complaints can be significant. These costs manifest themselves in a number of ways: lost business, investigative costs, time spent responding to complaints, and claims or credits paid. The Eastman Chemical Co. realized in 1997 that the level of customer complaints had not shown significant reduction in the previous few years despite the company's history of continually improving performance in its processes. A team at Eastman discovered that most complaint investigations were not getting to the root causes and that most investigations stopped after it was discovered who had caused the problem. Eastman turned to the Reliability Center Inc. to help them develop a root cause analysis (RCA) training course for its employees. Training covered three key concepts: use of a structured logic tree process to help determine what went wrong; going beyond the human cause of the problem and identifying organizational causes; and digging deeper than the first root cause found to identify and eliminate multiple causes. By 2000, Eastman had almost halved its level of customer complaints. Benefits to the company included improved customer satisfaction, increased sales, reduced waste, and lower costs.

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