Member Quality Articles

Call for Papers
Jump In and Get Your Feet Wet

What are you waiting for? Get re-certification points by submitting a Quality Article. I only need 500 words, no more than 1,000, please.

Tell us a little about your personal journey in the quality field, or share your opinion on a quality initiative. How about your experience using a quality tool?

I am happy to help you polish what you write.
You will be surprised how little effort it takes.
Just send your draft and a picture of yourself to adelacrandell@me.com.

I’ll take it from there.

Now isn’t that easy?

Easy as taking  S’mores from a baby.

“The SWOT Approach to College Enrollment” by Kelly Rodkey

As my family navigates the college search, application, and selection process for our second child, I yearn for a tool to distill the 4000+ degree granting universities into a handful for consideration.

I sought out the SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) Analysis as my salvation.  I quickly realized all the facts and data were available for these schools, so what I really needed was selection criteria for differentiation.

Strengths related to available field of study, admission criteria test scores, size of student body, public or private institution, scholarship availability, geographic location, and even academic reputation.

Weaknesses related to available field of study, admission criteria test scores, size of student body, public or private institution, scholarship availability, geographic location, and academic reputation as well.

As I focused strengths and weaknesses of the internal environment, such evaluation became only one part of the whole.  I focused on the opportunities and threats of the external environment and, in this case, those affected by the perceptions of a teenager trying to plan for the rest of her life.

Will it matter how good the food is in the cafeteria, how far one has to walk to get to class, how many flights of stairs are beautifully incorporated into the treks across campus, how many people from high school are going to the same university, how good/poor the lighting is in the dormitory, how nice the professor was during the interview, the strength of campus safety measures, how close the university is to civilization (as defined by a teenager), etc.,?

SWOT looks at how a firm fits to the current reality, so it is a preliminary indication of current competitive position.  Reality for a teenager may change rapidly.

SWOT analysis should be based on objective data that allow past-to-current-to-probable future comparisons of the marketplace, competitors, products and services, and company performance.  SWOT can help narrow the field in the college search using institutional facts and data.  However, as selecting a university to commit to for about four years of her life requires identifying where she is most comfortable, it seems that no quality tool can help characterize the highly subjective and emotional traits that will make a particular university the right fit for my child.

Kelly Rodkey spent over 22 years in the healthcare industry at Abbott and Baxter in many quality roles, which encompassed testing and manufacturing, new product development, and clinical study report submissions.  In her most recent role as a CAPA Quality Approver, Kelly worked with investigation teams to ensure nonconformances were fully investigated, corrective and /or preventive actions were effective, and documentation narratives were understandable and fully supported.  She holds three ASQ certifications and has been a member of ASQ Section 1212 since 2009.

“Root Cause Analysis to Address Health Concerns” by Kelly Rodkey

My daughter recently developed a skin condition that the pediatrician could not identify.  In her frustration, she declared, “Well I want to get a definitive diagnosis, not spend a year chasing around and guessing what it is!”

It reminded me that root cause analysis can be used to diagnose a medical condition.  Routine monitoring of human clinical chemistry can find an “out-of-specification” value in need of investigation.

As an example, Lee routinely got annual physicals.  Health insurance companies encouraged it and she thought it was a valuable investment as she realized she was no longer an invincible twenty-something.  At the office exam everything looked great, healthy weight and no major complaints.  She thought the insomnia, fatigue, joint pain, and trouble with concentration, were just a result of age and the hectic schedule of a working mother of three.  However, the routine lab work showed that Lee’s iron levels were quite low even though she took iron supplements since the birth of her then 10-year-old son.

It took multiple blood tests, fluid samples, and an upper and lower endoscopy to finally diagnose the root cause of the low iron level.  However, once clinicians identified the autoimmune disease, a  solution could be implemented… effectiveness is to be determined.

It would be nice if medical diagnoses could be swift and accurate, but as is often the case in industry, if the needed data are not available to identify the cause, then a well-planned investigation to collect more data must begin.

How will you manage your own health?  An annual physical allows the physician to monitor routine clinical chemistry values and to identify when something is trending out of specification.  Once the out of specification condition is identified, the investigation can begin.  With luck, the root cause can be quickly diagnosed, solutions can be identified and implemented, and the effectiveness of the solution can be evaluated… all with facts and data and not prolonged physician guessing.

Kelly Rodkey spent over 22 years in the healthcare industry at Abbott and Baxter in many quality roles, which encompassed testing and manufacturing, new product development, and clinical study report submissions.  In her most recent role as a CAPA Quality Approver, Kelly worked with investigation teams to ensure nonconformances were fully investigated, corrective and /or preventive actions were effective, and documentation narratives were understandable and fully supported.  She holds three ASQ certifications and has been a member of ASQ Section 1212 since 2009.

In Remembrance Deborah Anne Schrier-Blosser by Frances Blosser

 

Deborah Anne Schrier-Blosser

Jan 19, 1980-Aug 9, 2016

annMost knew her as Anne.  Some knew her as Kitty.  She “found” her interest in a Quality career while working in Michigan for a Die Casting company.  Like many Quality professionals, a career wasn’t her goal when she took that inspection job but she liked the work and aspired to become a Quality professional.

Anne moved to Illinois a few years ago and came as a guest to an ASQ 1212 meeting. She was amazed by the variety of Quality specialties she found in ASQ’s membership. She volunteered for a short time with the section.  Anne found work at Zebra Technologies in Vernon Hills as a Quality Technician and later at Allied Plastics as a Quality Inspector where she studied to be an Internal Auditor.  She was also studying to pass the CQPA Certified Quality Process Analyst) exam.

This spring she suffered a stroke.  No cause was found despite extensive testing.  She seemed to recover quickly and made steady strides in rehab. Her goal remained fixed on passing the CQPA in December.  Her respiratory system did not seem to recover so quickly and pneumonia put her in the hospital in July.  Antibiotics, nebulizer, and inhalers occupied much of her time but she continued her stroke rehab and her CQPA studies.

On August 7, she felt ill and collapsed from respiratory difficulty. She was taken to the hospital but died on August 9, 2016. She was a wife, mother, daughter, student, singer, and an artist.  She had a zest for life.  She was loved. She will be missed by her husband, her daughter, all her family, and her friends.

But this is not where the story ends because from a small child Anne made it clear if she died we were to give her organs to save others.  So now she lives on in at least 2 others, and more will be helped with tissues and research.  Her generous love for others goes on.

Shifting the Audit Process Paradigm by Chris Harbeck  

The current paradigm is that auditing is a process of deficiency: “What are the non-conformances?”  Audit summary reports rare;u provide much information beyond that.

In the performance of a Quality Management System audit, the auditor reviews a company’s various processes and assesses compliance to the applicable Standard, as well as the internally documented procedures.  The documented procedures themselves are also reviewed for compliance. Once complete, the auditor prepares a summary report.  In the closing meeting, the auditor lists the findings noted in the report (which are invariably only non-conformances), and then goes on to elaborate on them.  People will leave such a meeting with a bit of a negative outlook, and an appreciation that the audit is over.

But I’m sure that for all of the “deficiency” findings that are realized and discussed, there are at least as many activities that are being performed very well.  Some examples include:

  • Overall record maintenance and availability (acting as evidence) might be strong;
  • A consistency of processes and records in various manufacturing areas that lead to more efficient and effective management;
  • Methods for data collection and review that lead to meaningful improvements, either at the process level or at the company level;
  • Processes and record-keeping for Management Review, Internal Audits, Corrective Actions, and so on, that are effective and are properly maintained through to evidence of proper closure.

Discussion of these strong points would be just as valuable to an organization as discussing non-conformances.

Consider this analogy:  When you go visit your Doctor, and he says “You are sick, take this medicine”, you may leave with a negative feeling that you should be taking better care of yourself.  But if the Doctor says “You have a flu bug, and here is some medicine.  However, your blood pressure is good, your heart rate is good, your blood tests came back normal, and your cholesterol is good.”, then you are likely to leave with a better attitude that you are taking good care of yourself, but just need to get rid of the flu.

The term “Audit” should be replaced with “Assessment.”  Just like at the Doctor, when someone assesses your Quality System, you want to know the overall health of the system, not just a list of some (particularly minor) non-conformances.  No one looks forward to an audit if it is purely a deficiency process, and employees are likely to spend all of their energy making sure nothing is found to be wrong.  However, what if half of that energy could be spent on showcasing and expanding on what is done well, knowing that these activities would be reported on as well?  Just think of the improvement in attitude and process development that could happen if this were the case!

Performing and reporting an audit can be a self-fulfilling process.  Focusing only on deficiency may not break a cycle of negative results.  However, equal focus on positivity may increase activity that leads to further positive results.  I strongly believe in the importance of maintaining an audit process which assesses the overall health of the system, and highlights the good along with the not-so-good.

I believe that an organization’s Internal Auditors should practice this technique.  I am also hoping that certification bodies will begin to realize this as well, and will develop their auditors to provide an organization with a complete picture of how their Quality System is performing.  The organization will certainly appreciate it.

Audit results that characterize the full health of the Quality System could strengthen the partnership between an organization and their auditor.

 

C harbeckChris has 22 years of experience in Quality Assurance and Engineering, mainly in the plastics industry, with product lines that include Consumer Products, Home/Office Products, Lighting, Medical Devices and Automotive.  Chris is a certified Lead Auditor with valuable knowledge in the development, implementation, and maintenance of ISO9001 compliant Quality Systems.  He closely followed the changes that were incorporated into the new 2015 revision, and provided consulting services for beginning the transition within an organization.  Chris is currently gaining experience in the BRC Global Standard for Packaging and Packaging Materials, and will obtain auditor certification for this standard as well.  Chris passed the Certified Quality Manager Exam in 2004, and is a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality.

After working as the Director of Quality and Engineering for 13 years at Custom Plastics in Elk Grove Village, Chris recently joined BWay Corporation, and now heads the Quality Management activities at their plant in Elk Grove Village.  This is their largest plastics plant, manufacturing rigid containers and lids of various sizes for Food, Consumer, and Industrial products.  Their Executive office is in Oak Brook, and their Corporate office is in Atlanta.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina.  While at Clemson, he accepted an invitation to join the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society.

 

Meet Mahendran Ravichandran

IMG_7687

Mehenran Ravichandran

Mahendran Ravichandran is our new Programs chair. He is now a Quality Program Manager at Abbie. specializing in combination products.

Mahendran has over 8 years of experience in new product development of medical devices and combination products. He started off his career as a product development engineer in R&D for medical devices. He has experience with taking several new products from cradle to grave ensuring compliance with FDA regulations.

Mahendran earned a MS in Biomedical Engineering from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is a member of ASQ and has a Six Sigma Green Belt, CQE and CQA certifications.

Mahendran is behind adding a Contact button on the right sidebar and at the bottom of this post, so people interested in speaking can easily volunteer.  If you’d like to speak, or you have a recommendation or idea, please contact Mehendran: r.mahen@gmail.com

 Contact Us

International Conference on Quality Standards by Alaina Blanchard

The first annual International Conference on Quality Standards (ICQS) hosted by the American Society of Quality took place on November 9-10, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Quality Management System standard (ISO9001) revision was finalized in September 2015 and published in October 2015.

The networking opportunities included in the conference allowed the attendees to meet with members of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG 176) responsible for revising the Quality Management System standard to:

  •  better understand the changes in the standard and
  • discuss how to best implement the changes

Conference topics included implementing risk-based thinking, determining when documentation is really needed, and defining the context of the organization.

Risk-based thinking:

One of the changes made in the 2015 revision of ISO 9001 established a more systematic approach to considering risk versus treating “prevention” as a separate component of a quality management system. Risk-based thinking is expected to assure consistency of quality of products and services, establish a proactive culture of improvement, and assist with regulatory compliance.

Risks and opportunities are mentioned in a number of sections within the ISO 9001:2015 including, but not limited to, the sections on top management leadership and commitment (section 5.1.1 and 5.1.2), the section on understanding the organization (section 4), and the section on management review inputs (9.3.2).

 Section 6.1.2 NOTE in theand include “avoiding risk, taking risk in order to pursue an opportunity, eliminating the risk source, changing the likelihood or consequences, sharing the risk, or retaining the risk by informed decision” specifically mentions options to address risks and opportunities in theand include “avoiding risk, taking risk in order to pursue an opportunity, eliminating the risk source, changing the likelihood or consequences, sharing the risk, or retaining the risk by informed decision.”

One presentation at the conference focused on a practical application of using risk, i.e. using evaluations of risk to determine when to perform corrective action vs. just performing a correction and trending.

Documentation:

In the past, some organizations have updated procedures as a default response to address audit observations. Now the focus is more on results vs. just updating a procedures.

New terms from ISO9001:2015 Documented Procedures and Instructions Maintained information and Record Retained Information:

The ISO9001:2015 includes requirements for retained information and maintained information, but does not specifically mention “how to” complete the documentation. If an organization knows when and how much to document, along with selection of appropriate alternatives to documentation, the organization can achieve equal or improved process performance at lower costs and reduced employee frustration.

One presentation mentioned that detailed procedures may not be needed for complex tasks if only employees with specific knowledge, skills, training and experience complete those tasks. For example, an airline pilot completes a checklist before he takes off on a plane, but does not have a specific procedure that he or she follows for “how” to fly the plane.

Organizations need to determine the appropriate balance for documentation; too much documentation may discourage the use of good judgement and too little documentation may result in poor products/performance.

Context:

Rather than specifically mentioning exclusions, the ISO9001:2015 revision mentions that organizations must understand external and internal issues that are relevant to the organizations purpose and strategic direction. To accomplish this, several speakers recommended integrating the quality plan withthe business plan vs. having separate quality and business plans.

How to implement the changes:

One speaker mentioned the importance of creating “value propositions,”  which encourages an organization to implement the changes included in the 2015 revision of the standard by seeing the value it can create. Another speaker used examples of how different Lean tools could be used to implement the various sections of the standard. One attendee mentioned that his organization now embraces standards as an opportunity to benchmark best practices.

ISO9001:2015 information:

The final version of the ISO9001:2015 standard lists a reference to some free public information regarding the standard: www.iso.org/tc176/sc02/public. The free information available on this website includes a correlation matrix between the ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015 and a white paper on risk-based thinking. The actual ISO9001:2015 can be purchased through www.asq.org.

Besides sessions on ISO9001:2015, the conference also had a session on “Developments in ISO 13485: International Standardization of Quality Management System Requirements for Regulatory Purposes in the Medical Devices Industry” and a session on “ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System) Major Changes and Significant Challenges.”

The conference was organized to allow networking between presenters and attendees. The price of the conference included breakfast and lunch for all attendees as well as an extended time between presentations for networking.

Conference presentations became available to registered attendees via a download from the conference website.

The American Society of Quality intends to schedule another International Conference on Quality Standards sometime next year.

About the author:

Alaina BlanchardAlaina Blanchard has diverse experience in the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industry. She provides value to an organization by simplifying complex processes and reducing regulatory compliance risk. She can help bring order out of chaos, without going overboard. She collaborates with multiple levels of an organization to achieve results. Her strengths and expertise include performance metrics, Root Cause Analysis of significant trends, organizational management, writing investigation reports, and audit preparation.

Alaina has a Master in Public Health in Biostatistics from the University of Michigan and holds the following ASQ certifications: Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence, Quality Auditor, and Quality Engineer. She also has a Lean Six Sigma certification from Baxter Healthcare.

November, 2014 Meeting Feedback

 

We aim to improve your meeting experience.  For that reason, Last month we polled attendees following the November Meeting.  Here are your results.

Mini-Survey Results
Category Mean
quality of event 4.705882353
scope of info 4.558823529
usefulness of info 4.441176471
Presentation quality 4.705882353
Overall meeting value 4.235294118
Motivational experience? 4.294117647

n=18

Categories rated on a scale of 1-5, with 5 indicated the highest satisfaction level.

Comments received:

Great topic; is of use to me to include in my knowledge base. Very nice presentation. Presenter (Dan Burrows) knowledgeable and confident. Nice pace.
Nice to see something other than a medical-oriented presentation
Please send out this presentation to meeting attendees.
Good foundational information. Good examples and definitions. He was a pleasant presenter.
Great job staying on time!   Interesting topic. Good Speaker. Thanks.
Appreciated the relevant, technical info.

Looking to grow your soft skills? Join a Toastmasters Club to grow soft skills and more! by Gina Gotz

gina_kotz_gray_ge_hr_friendlyHave you ever wondered how great (or even good) public speakers and leaders got that way? Have you ever wondered if they were always that way? I used to wonder that, too—as I often had great ideas at work, both in meetings and in writing.

However, when I would speak in front of small groups of people (less than 10), I would invariably get butterflies taking flight and doing somersaults in my stomach. I was sure that everyone in the room could hear my heart pounding wildly in my chest, and I would feel the growing warmth of nervousness around my collar. Does this sound like something you’ve felt, too? If so, read on. And even if not, read on anyways! I love sharing with others my experiences in Toastmasters.

By 1997, I felt that my nervousness when speaking was holding me back from reaching my full potential at work (and elsewhere). So I joined a Toastmasters club. Back then, my employer, W.W. Grainger, had a onsite corporate club. Within a couple of months after joining, I gave my first speech, called an “Icebreaker”, which is a 4 to 6 minute talk about any aspect of yourself. I noticed, very soon after joining, that Toastmasters is all about “learning by doing”. With the guidance and tips in the Toastmasters manuals, Toastmasters meetings function as 60 to 90minute mini-workshops where members deliver prepared speeches and do short “off the cuff” speaking, too.

Members give each other with helpful written and verbal speech evaluations. These evaluations are invaluable feedback given in a safe and supportive environment. This aspect of “safe and supportive” was one of the main reasons I stayed with the club for a while. I enjoyed supporting others through their icebreaker speeches with valuable feedback in the same way that I had received support from my fellow club-mates.

The following year, after leaving W.W. Grainger, for some reason or another I didn’t give Toastmasters a second thought—that is, until one day, a whopping 12 years later, in the fall of 2009. I was working at GE Healthcare by this time. The same day that I spontaneously recalled how helpful the W.W. Grainger Toastmasters Club experience was, I received an email from the GE Healthcare Toastmasters club right in my building. The club was having a first anniversary party! I knew this was a sign and I joined the club at work the following week.

I learned a lot more about Toastmasters my second time around. I learned that Toastmasters is no “flash in the pan” group. Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization founded in 1924. Toastmasters clubs meet in hundreds of countries worldwide. In the Chicagoland alone, there are over 200 clubs. Local area and division trainings as well as and district conferences provide affordable, often free, trainings for its membership. Also, Toastmasters also holds an annual international conference for its members. In addition to learning about the Toastmasters organization, I also became more involved in the GE Healthcare Toastmasters Club, first becoming a club officer and later the club president. Serving the club and its members was a great experience. I also got smart—I learned more about the educational programs Toastmasters had to offer. I vowed to myself that this time I wasn’t going to just be “passing through.” I wanted to stay with Toastmasters to see how much I could accomplish and how much I could learn.

During my time with Toastmasters, my managers at work were also taking note, too. One manager who knew me both before and after I joined the club at GE actually told me, “Gina, I’m not sure what you’ve been doing in that Toastmasters club, but it really shows in how you speak!”

Being able to communicate well can sometimes give you an extra edge when managers are selecting leaders for special projects at work, facilitator for panel discussions, and even business and professional events. When you work on communicating well, leaders and others take notice. New avenues of opportunity might open up to you. What you say can have more impact when you are effectively practicing good communication.

Four years and 11 months from the time I joined the GE Healthcare Club, in October 2014, I earned the highest educational level that a Toastmaster can achieve: Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). But I didn’t get there alone. Through completing over 40 speeches, teaming with others on several leadership projects, and serving for one year in a District leadership role, among other Toastmasters projects, my fellow Toastmasters and my family supported my commitment to my journey of personal growth.

If you want to become a better communicator and leader, Toastmasters is a great place to do it. For around $100 per year in dues, your takeaways, confidence, competencies, and friendships will increase a hundredfold. I know mine did. I joined Toastmasters to overcome fear of speaking, and I stayed for the networking, friendship, servant-leadership opportunities, and the fun of getting together with my Toastmasters friends at meetings and elsewhere. The time commitment for Toastmasters is entirely up to you. It is a self-paced learn-by-doing program, and you definitely tailor your own experience based on what you want to get out of Toastmasters.

If you want to conquer your own “personal butterflies” and pounding heart (or name any other nervous ailment you get when speaking in front of others), visit several Toastmasters clubs to check them out. And then join one of the clubs that makes the best fit for you. Then stand back. Watch your attitude and your skills change. Embrace the experience, and work on your own personal transformation.

Don’t be like me and wait twelve years to find out what it’s all about. Imagine all you can learn now by finding the club nearest you today. To find a club that meets on a day/time and place suitable for you, go to toastmasters.org and click the “Find a Club” link. To learn more about Chicagoland District 30 Toastmasters, see d30toastmasters.org.

Who knows? Like me, you might wind up pleasantly surprised to gain even more than you expected.

Innovations: How to Be Ready when Innovation Strikes by Gina Kotz

Where do innovators get ideas? The answer is simple: From everywhere! More specifically, many ideas come from everyday life.

For example, the invention of the wildly successful 3M Post-It note actually came from a failed attempt at making a permanent adhesive for the back of notepad paper.

In another example, Jen Groover, the inventor of the Butler Bag line of organized purses for “neatniks”, said she got the idea for the first Butler Bag from, of all things, the compartmentalized silverware caddy / basket inside her dishwasher.

The list goes on. But one theme stands out. These innovators—inventors if you will—skillfully connected the dots between a seemingly failed (or otherwise even ordinary) creation and another creation in their mind’s eye that would fill a real-world need.

Recently I had my own “innovation” moment—I was looking for a way to tame several pairs of metal salad tongs in my kitchen drawer. The solution: A paper towel tube cut in half, into which I can slide the tongs, hold them closed, and keep them from snagging on other items in the same drawer. Voila! I now have a free “tong keeper”.

How can you prepare yourself for those unexpected moments when innovation strikes? Here are a few tips.

  • Stay “Open” to Ideas. In order to train your mind to see solutions to problems (essentially the main driver behind innovations), it helps to relax and observe the world around you. Another way is to study problems or study the ways that people informally solve their problems, to get more insights on possible “outside the box” thinking about other solutions.
  • Get out of your routine. This could mean trying a new food each day, taking a different route to or from work, sitting in a different spot for lunch, or reading something different. Different behaviors than the “usual” or norm can keep your mind geared toward the unique. When you “break out of your rut” mentally, you also work different parts of your brain and avoid the “auto-pilot” mode. Any ingrained ways of acting or thinking can be numbing and can cut you off from hatching new ideas in your mind.
  • Pay attention where and/or when you tend to get ideas. Some people get their best ideas while in the shower, while going for a morning jog, or while working out. Some people get ideas before bedtime or just after waking up. Do you know when you have your best ideas, and where you usually are? Some of us who have had life- changing ideas generally know the answer to this question. And even if you haven’t had any life-changing ideas? Start to take note of where and when you get ideas. Pay attention to this starting today.
  • Be ready to capture your ideas. Maybe it is on your phone or tablet or laptop, or maybe you carry a good old- fashioned paper and pen or pencil. Whatever it is, make sure it is handy so you can do drawings of your idea or to write it down. As in the Post-It and Butler Bag examples, the “light bulb” moment comes when you might not expect it—so it pays to be prepared.  

The human mind is a complex space. Since our minds often literally have a “mind of their own”, these tips can help you to be ready whenever (or wherever!) those innovative ideas might strike.

gina_kotz_gray_ge_hr_friendlyGina Kotz, CSQE
Gina is a Lead Technical Writer at GE Healthcare Specialty Solutions

Improving Customer Satisfaction” How Surveys Can Help by Gina Kotz

gina_kotz_gray_ge_hr_friendly
Ever wonder why customers stop being loyal?

Some companies or individuals never find out the answer to this, because their customers “silently leave.” Some dissatisfied customers have been heard to tell at least 10 other people about their bad experience. But they don’t bother to tell the company or individual that caused their bad experience.

These are a few of the topics brought up at the start of the ASQ two-day course for “Improving Customer Satisfaction” which I attended in Rosemont, IL on June 11-12, 2014.

Our helpful ASQ facilitator and trainer, Jeff Israel, also has extensive experience with customer satisfaction, and how to gauge customer satisfaction using surveys. As the owner of SatisFaction Strategies, LLC, Jeff calls himself a “Customer Satisfaction Fanatic.” He teaches ASQ courses as part of the ASQ Customer-Supplier Division (CSD), which is a division within ASQ’s specialties divisions related to Customer-Supplier topics. Other divisions related to CSD include the Service Quality Division, the Human Development Division, and the Leadership Division.

About 25% of the course included Jeff leading the participants with statistics and encouraging discussion about how and why customer satisfaction is strong when companies truly care about their customers’ experiences. Jeff covered the concept of “Moments of Truth.” A moment of truth is an interaction (large or small) that a customer has with a process or an organization, the outcome of which can either positively or negatively influence a customer’s opinion of that process or organization. The group doing the satisfaction study decides  focus on internal and/or external.

The other 75% of the course included group exercises and a high-level discussion of how surveys, when well written and well conducted, can yield big results to companies who are willing to listen and act on their customers’ inputs. Since our class size was small (about five of us from a good mix of fields and disciplines), we had quicker gains in learning and more meaningful sharing of experiences, a nice bonus.

Surveys help customers communicate what an organization does well, and what it could do better (based on surveying on various moments of truth.) Organizations and individuals can come away with actionable items to assure changes lessen or eliminate negatives opinion, and, instead, increase the positives aspects of a customer’s experience.   Improved customer satisfaction is the end result.

I was also able to draft a survey that I will eventually apply to my work back at the office, for surveying my internal customers. I plan to gauge my effectiveness as a technical writer, and gauge the effectiveness of the documentation creation, review, and production process.

One interesting takeaway from this class is that customers might have one opinion about people with whom they worked resulting in one kind of customer reaction (positive or negative,) and then customers might have an entirely different (or even the same) opinion about the process. Customer satisfaction with people and satisfaction with process are both important and vastly different data points to work consider for overall customer satisfaction improvement.

Jeff Israel is an energetic presenter, and he encouraged participation all along the journey on this subject. I appreciated also receiving a free book for taking this course, Improving your Measurement of Customer Satisfaction, by Terry G. Vavra.

The next time you wonder why customers stop being loyal, ask yourself, “Are we being loyal to the items that actually matter to our Customers?” and “Do we know what our Customers really want from us—and from our processes?”

Gina Kotz, CSQE
Gina is a Lead Technical Writer at GE Healthcare Specialty Solutions