Auditing a quality management system is just as important as any other aspect of the system. The audit process allows everyone involved to see if the quality management system is working correctly and if the goals and objectives are being reached. Auditing also plays major roles in motivating employees and allows for rewards and acknowledgment measures to be assessed as well as possible compensation.

Auditing of quality management systems can take many forms, and each organization will have a unique auditing process that fits its system. Service industries will have a very different auditing system than a manufacturing organization, but the end result of the systems is going to be the same. Here are some examples of auditing systems used in service organizations.

Mystery Shoppers. Shoppers are sent to businesses to interact with employees and assess the overall service quality and report back to management. This is usually done on a regular basis, and reports are produced for the employees.

Customer Surveys. Customer surveys are now well used as a means to find out how your business is viewed by consumers. These surveys can range from mail-in forms to short forms the consumers complete at the time of purchase or even having a sale person or clerk asking the customer to rate the product or service at the close of the purchase. Getting direct input from your customers is invaluable and should be done in some form in every organization.

New Customer Measures. Measurement over time of the number of new customers can be a very effective tool to assess quality levels. Customers who are very happy with your service are going to tell others—60 percent of new customers in service organizations come from referrals. New customers can be an important litmus test of quality.

Quality in Services. Quality in service industries has more recently come into the mainstream, and the benefits reaped by service organizations initiating solid quality management programs have been substantial. The basis for quality management systems in service organizations is to proactively measure and manage the quality level of the services; some of the metrics applied as the basis of service quality are:

✔ The “iceberg principle,” in other words, the average service company never hears from more than 90 percent of customers who are not happy with the level of service they received. For every legitimate complaint received there will be more than 20 customers who feel they have had problems, and at least 25 percent of those problems could be considered serious enough to warrant investigation.

✔ Of the customers that make a complaint, more than half will do business again if the complaint is addressed and resolved. If the complaint is resolved quickly, and the customer feels the organization cares about its customers, the number will jump up to almost 100 percent.

✔ If a complaint is not resolved, the average customer will tell more than eight other individuals about the negative experience. If the complaint is resolved, the customer will tell at least five others about the positive experience.

✔ On average it costs six times more to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one.

As you can see, quality in service industries can have substantial influence on the bottom line. A well-designed and managed quality system can be the key to providing the quality of service desired.

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