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Complaint to a customer

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  • #38001

    beginner
    Participant

    Is there a “six sigma” way to send a complaint to a customer?
    There are a lot of customers around that don’t have a Quality Management policy and is hard for us to meet our procedures due to lack of follow up by our customers…

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    #113150

    Dayton
    Member

    That was interesting.  Please explain further what you mean by your question and provide examples of you not “meeting your procedures” because your customers don’t have a Quality Manual policy and lack follow up.  
    Vinny

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    #113152

    beginner
    Participant

    Ok, I’ll give you an example (I’m not an english speaking, so I’ll try my best ^_^):
    If a customer is requiring me a new product, MY internal procedures ask me to follow some steps BEFORE i can run production (I have to have blue print, material specifications, packing specs, and functional specs if needed) then my Engineering  department shall revise all the information and determine if we are able to manufature the product within specifications, right?
    Besides that, all I get from my customer is a Purchase order describing a product: ie: 600pcs PVC tube 15″ and that is all… BUT STILL, my customers MAY complain for other diferent issues not mentioned in the PO(ie: diameters, appearance, etc).
    If I follow my internal procedures I MAY loose my customer because most of them do not have a blue print to send me ! or don’t even have an idea of the specs the want the product to met until they build their final product to sell their customer…
    as you can see: Most of the times I can not follow my internal procedures and I can not loose my customers…
    any advice? 

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    #113154

    Dayton
    Member

    Don’t worry – your English is as good as mine.  It sounds like your problems are internally generated versus caused by your customers.  Your order entry process needs the same discipline that the rest of your operation has.  If you are accepting PO’s without the necessary product specifications you are just looking for problems.  I’d suggest that you meet with your sales, order entry, engineering, quality and manufacturing groups (and I realize that a small shop might not have these formal functions, but you have people doing various elements of each and need to get them together) and determine the minimum information needed prior to accepting an order, proceduralize that and stick to it.  Your customers would/should rather take some additional time on the front end and get the order right.  Complain internally first, get your process right and then work with your customers to assure understanding and compliance.   Sometimes much easier said than done – but that’s the tact you need to take in my opinion.    Good luck – it won’t get done overnight but stick to it.
     Vinny

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    #113155

    beginner
    Participant

    Thank you for the advice Vinny!
    I know most of the problems are internal and that would not change if the HEAD doesn’t change… we are not alowed to reject a PO because of lack of information from customer… and here the head believes that all these quality systems, sigma certification, etc is just another Corporate requirement
    I guess I’ll have to deal with this until something BIG happen.. (we have rejections from our customers and we just have to accept all “non conformant material” and pay for that…. is hard to produce anything within specs if you don’t have any!…
    Ces’t la vie!

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    #113195

    billybob
    Participant

    Hello folks,
    I have a hard time believeing that anything is ordered so haphazerdly by any company.
    Perhaps no blueprint is sent because the customer is ordering to, say a PVC standard specification that is an industry wide standard for tolerance, finish, appearence and so on?  Maybe you only need to look at the PO closer of the material that is being ordered for such details.  Look for DIN, ISO, and MIL specs. and so on.  
    Later,
    Billybob

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    #113209

    Gabriel
    Participant

    Dear Ces’t la vie! (Oops, maybe this one was not the signature, was it?)
    First of all, let me tell you that most customers do not place formal specifications to their suppliers. When was the last time you told the guy at Mc Donnalds the required weight of the amburger, or the last time you gave a document to the girl at the supermarket specifying how many beens shall the can contain?
    The above examples may seem too extreme, but the same happens with most small companies, a lot of medium companies, and several large multinational corporations too.
    So key here is to adequate YOUR procedures to YOUR reality. You have to fit in the needs of your customers, not the other way. So you must find some way to find out what is what your customer wants before you sell it. Things can range from very simple to mors sophisticated. But the good news are that you dont need to choose either the easy way or the sophisticated one. You can set your procedure to be adaptive according to the customers expectations.
    On the easy side, when the custome calls and say “Hi, I want 5 tubes of PVC with a length of 1m” asking to the customer “Do you have any other nned other that the tube is made of PVC and about 1m long, like dimensional tolerances, visual matters, etc?”
    But the customer may answer “I don’t know, I just want a tube like this one. It is the one the Chinese competitor uses”.
    Then you can go further and further towards the sophisticated side: “What are you going to use it to?” “How, you imagine, could the tube be not aceptable?” “Can you send me a sample of the tube of your competitor?” “Can you send me a sample of the parts that will be joined to the tubes, or of the finished assembly, or a drawing of it?” “I’ll tell you what. We will make a specification for your part and prepare a sample, then we will review the drawing with you and you may test the sample to see if it works for you”…..
    If the customer says “Stop f##king with me and just give me those tubes” you can decide to either accept the order or not, and then if a complaint raises you can decide either accepting the complaint or not.
    All that can be written in your procedures.
    Life is life! (it’s not my signature)

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    #113213

    beginner
    Participant

    Dear Gabriel,
    Cest la vie is not my signature ^_^….. (I know you knew it)…
    Thank you for taking your time in answering my question.. I apprecieate that so much… I must say that is a great advise and it gave me some ideas on what can I do to have my internal procedures  adecuate to my Company needs.
    Gracias otra vez!
    Ana (that is my signature!)

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    #113214

    Lass
    Participant

    Beginner,
    I agree with many things that Gabriel said, but here is a suggestion for a different approach –
    Keep track of reasons the customer rejects the product, missing specifications, and any other items related to the issues with the customer. If you already have this information stored somewhere, you may be able to use it to determine key factors that are creating the problem.
    When approaching the customer to reach a solution, always approach from them from a process improvement perspective, not “I’m right and you’re wrong”.  The customer is always right.
    Just my $0.02
    Lass

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    #113231

    Gabriel
    Participant

    De nada,
    Let me tell you a real case:
    We are receiving several complaints because our customers find that the product does not work.
    When the service goes to see what’s going on, they find that the product was not installed according to the instructions. “What instructions? Oh, those pieces of paper that came with the product? I dont remember where I put it”
    Of course, the complaint is not accepted and the customer is charged for the service. But the bitter taste remains in our customers. So we are now trying to find a way that reduces the possibility of a wrong instalation even if the manual is never red.
    Of course that convincing all the potential customers that they should read the manual is not an option (No, the label “Read the manual before instalation” did not work either).
    The reality is, our customers do not read the manual. That’s just how they are and we want them to give us money for ur product. We can blame them for not reading the manual or make our product “customer proof”.

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    #113234

    beginner
    Participant

    Gabriel, Less,
    You are saying that the customer IS ALWAYS RIGHT NO MATTER WHAT… I can understand that.
    My problem is when I try to work within a Quality Assurance System that requires methods: It’s hard to do that when my customers are not used to follow procedures/systems/methods… (ie. they don’t even send “oficial” complaints when needed) then I have to work trough my documented QAS trying to “explain” what is what our Company do to satisfy our “customer needs” (we have to do the product first and then after a trial and error with the customer, we can set the characteristics of the product)… looks like we are doing , then improving and then planning.. sounds weird to me BUT seems that that is what works for my customers.
    Thank you for all your help.
    Beginner
     

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    #113242

    Gabriel
    Participant

    We once had a complaint from VolksWagen. It was a telephone complaint, but the following day I was on a plane flying to meet them and taking with me OUR form to record the customer complaints.
    Write down “On xx/xx/xx Mr Xxxx called and complained because of…..” Then you have your “Official” complaint. The speach is a valid way to transmit sepcifications, requirements, complaints, feedback or whatever. The companies with a QMS ussualy write down a minute of the conversation to keep record of what was said.

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    #113245

    Solo
    Member

    Gabriel,
    Perhapa a joint Poka-Yoke project, between your organization and your customer, would be beneficial in order to produce a mistake proof product/engineering specification/assembly process.  At the very least it may highlight to you customer that the issue they are complaining about is not necessarily your fault…
    …Just a thought…
    -Solo

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    #113247

    Solo
    Member

    Beginner,
    While reading your comment that your customers “don’t even send ‘official’ complaints when needed”, my first though was that:   
    In this case, your “customer need” is a process whereby they can complain without having to fill out a form.
    Is there an complaint documentation process within your company, internally, that will cover for the lack of them sending an “official” complaint?
    -Solo

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    #113249

    Gabriel
    Participant

    The only problem is that my customer is not “Customer Inc”, but anybody who goes to a shop, likes my product, and decide to buy it. We never know the name of our customer until there is a complaint. Our customer is the public in general.

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    #113250

    PB
    Participant

    Gabriel, welcome back.
    Beginner,
    You are really caught between the rock and hard place. There are times when you have a generic product (McDonald hamburger, or a ballpen, etc.) the customer may not bother to complain if the product did not meet specification or can get immediate resolution of their complaints. (Even they may have customers who are chronic complainers.)
    If you have a quality system, you must have processes which run to specification limits. Where do you get these specification limits from? If it is an industry standard, then you are making your product to satisfy all customers who buy that product. If you are making your product to a PO, you need specification from your customer (as you are now making a custom product). If you do not have that, and you make a product that kind of fits what the customer may have ordered, then you are not making a custom or a generic product. In this instant,  you may satisfy the customer or may not. How do deal with the various set-up (machinery) costs, process variations you encounter, etc.?
    PB

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