Customers Satisfied With Fast
satisfaction has reached its highest level since the second
quarter of 1995, according to the latest American Customer
Satisfaction Index. The ACSI report indicates customer satisfaction
in two economic sectors--retail, finance and insurance;
Satisfaction rose 0.3 percent to 74 (out of 100 points),
continuing a growth pattern seen in the last two years.
The final-quarter report for 2003 shows satisfaction up
a substantial 1.5 percent over the previous year.
Fast food--included in the retail category--improved from
71 to 74 points, making it the biggest gainer in the latest
report. Pizza Hut made the category’s biggest jump,
up 7.1 percent to 75. KFC improved 10 percent since the
fourth quarter of 2002. The category leaders were Papa John’s
(76), and Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut; each earned
Also included in the retail category are department/discount
stores, in which Kohl’s remains the leader despite
a 6 percent drop to 79. JCPenney, however, jumped 6.8 percent
to 78, and Target and Dillard’s tied with scores of
In the specialty retail category, Costco is ahead of its
competitors with a score of 80. Lowe’s and Sam’s
Club are relatively strong, both scoring 77. Best Buy (72),
Home Depot (73) and Circuit City (73) rounded out the category.
In the supermarket category, Publix remains the leader
with a value of 82, up 1.2 percent. Its nearest competitor
is Supervalu at 77. Kroger and Safeway are tied for last
with 71 points.
E-commerce, which was already showing high scores, increased
further to 80.8 from 77.6 in 2002. “E-commerce is
getting better and better at first determining what constitutes
an excellent experience in the minds of customers and then
quickly delivering,” says Larry Freed, an online satisfaction
expert and CEO of ForeSee Results. “The barriers to
making improvements are definitely lower on the Internet,
and companies like Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and eBay
are showing they know how to use that advantage effectively.”
In the financial services class, the highest score went
to the life insurance and property/casualty insurance categories,
with 77 and 78 points respectively. Farmer’s Group’s
4.2 percent increase to 75 still leaves it well behind GEICO
(79). Health care insurance has not scored well with customers,
with an average category score of only 70. Blue Cross/Blue
Shield earned the category high of 72.
The ACSI is produced through a partnership of the University
of Michigan Business School, the American Society for Quality
and CFI Group, and is supported in part by Market Strategies
Inc. and ForeSee Results.
To view all sector scores, visit www.theacsi.org.
Practice Report Aims at Laboratory Quality Control
and Minimizing Rework in the Quality Control Laboratory”
is the latest study by benchmarking researcher Best Practices
LLC. The report reveals that quality executives in the pharmaceutical
industry must become involved with quality control in the
face of increased FDA scrutiny.
The report explores key drivers that optimize productivity
and minimize costs in the quality control lab. It also highlights
seven of the world’s top 15 pharmaceutical companies:
AstraZeneca, Aventis, Bayer, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline,
Pfizer and Pharmacia.
Key metrics include:
Number of products supported by benchmarked labs
Number of methods employed in labs
Number of tests conducted per year
A count of reworks per year
Management-to-analyst/technician ratios for each lab
Approximate first-pass yields for each lab
Percentage of total testing costs consumed by reworks
Percentage of rework caused by root-cause factors
Also included in the report are detailed operational best
practices to help companies manage laboratory employee productivity,
facilitate testing schedules and workflow, enhance productivity
and quality, and improve operating efficiency.
For example, one benchmark partner recently began employing
floor supervisors to spend 100 percent of their time in
the laboratory. The supervisors divide their time between
bench work and in-lab supervision. This management approach
improves talent retention through intra-lab promotion opportunities,
enhances on-the-job training for inexperienced workers and
provides closer supervision of day-to-day activities.
“Quality control labs are a mission-critical component
of drug manufacturing, which constitutes as much as 25 percent
of the cost of bringing products to market,” explains
Keith Symmers, vice president of Best Practices LLC. “This
study shows quality executives how to save time and money
in their quality control testing.”
The 84-page document includes 22 informational graphics,
31 data graphics, 14 manager narratives and 15 best practices.
To download a report summary, visit www.best-in-class.com.
ISO Asks Youngsters for Environmental
The International Organization
for Standardization has launched a Web site aimed at promoting
environmental awareness in children. The Kids’ ISO
14000 Programme is currently being rolled out internationally.
program was created by professor Takaya Kawabe and Miyuki
Koyama, respectively president and secretary-general of
ArTech, a Japanese nonprofit, nongovernmental organization.
It employs a simplified version of the plan-do-check-act
methodology used in the ISO 14001 environmental management
“Following the World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg in 2002, the United Nations announced plans
to launch the ‘Decade of Education for Sustainable
Development’ for 2005 through 2015,” explains
Kawabe. “It’s evident that the environmental
education of children and young people is now one of the
keys for the solution of global environmental problems and
for achieving sustainable development.”
The Kids’ ISO 9000 Programme aims to achieve the
Develop environmental awareness among children and young
Teach young people to implement environmental management
in their homes and communities
Open children to the value of networking with peers in other
schools, communities and countries to bring collective action
to global environmental issues.
“Four months ago, ISO pledged its active support
to the program, and today we take another practical step
to fulfill our commitment,” says ISO Secretary-General
Alan Bryden. “The new Web site includes information
on the program’s origins, objectives, how it works,
the sort of results it achieves, and how schools and private
and public sector organizations can participate.”
The Kids ISO 14000 Programme Web site can be found at
The site features introductory pages geared toward children
that answer questions such as “Why is it so special?”
“Who created it?” “What’s ISO’s
involvement?” “How does it work?” and
“How do we participate?” An introductory-level
workbook will soon be available from the site.
Additionally, ISO has published a promotional brochure,
“The Kids’ ISO 14000 Programme,” which
is available for free through the ISO Kids Web site.
ASQ Auditor Exam to Change
The American Society for Quality
has released a new body of knowledge for its Certified Quality
Auditor examination. Beginning June 5, all examinations
will include the new content, which reorganizes the existing
body and includes new material.
There are five major topic areas in the new body of knowledge,
compared to seven in the previous 1999 version. The exam
format will be a five-hour, 150 multiple-choice question
test, including case studies. Each study provides a brief
scenario outlining critical details about an audit situation.
Additionally, each case study will be supported by related
audit documents. About 15 to 20 percent (25 to 30 questions)
of the test will be devoted to these case studies. Although
the related questions will use the same four-choice answer
format as the rest of the test, the use of scenario details
and sample documents will allow candidates to apply critical
thinking skills in evaluating realistic situations, according
to Katie Ferguson, test developer of certification offerings
“These case studies deal with actual, real-world
audit situations,” notes Ferguson. “The examinee
must review supporting documents and use the information
to respond to exam questions. This documentation is from
In February 2003, ASQ conducted a job analysis on the
CQA exam to identify key tasks performed by certified quality
auditors and the knowledge base required to perform them.
The results of the analysis identified which tasks and knowledge
areas of the current body of knowledge should be removed
“We’d been hearing about the need to develop
a more practical exam, one that truly demonstrates the proficiency
of the auditors,” explains Sally Harthun, manager
of certification offerings at ASQ.
Certification is formal recognition by ASQ that an individual
has demonstrated proficiency within--and a comprehension
of--a specified body of knowledge. It is solely peer recognition
and not registration or licensure. It demonstrates that
the certified individual has the knowledge to ensure the
quality of an organization’s products and services.
ASQ is a leading authority on quality, with more than
104,000 individual members and 800 organizational members.
The organization’s goals are to advance learning
in quality improvement and facilitate the exchange of knowledge
to improve business results and create better workplaces.
To find out more about ASQ certification, visit www.asq.org
and click on the “certification” tab.
Notable Quotations From the Baldrige Ceremony
On March 9, President George
W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Don Evans presented seven
organizations with 2003 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Awards for their achievements in performance excellence.
What follows are some notable quotations from the ceremony:
“We are people of integrity who respect and care
for others in our workplace and our world. We are driven
by the freedom and responsibility to exceed expectations
of those we work with and serve.”
--James S. Beard, president of Caterpillar Financial
“Performance excellence has become the blueprint
for exceeding the expectations of our customers, shareholders
and employees. We attribute much of Medrad’s success
to the Baldrige process.”
--John P. Friel, president and CEO of Medrad Inc.
“Baldrige works. For those who don’t believe
in Baldrige, I tell you this: Act like you believe, and
eventually you will believe, because you’ll see great
--David Spong, president of Boeing Aerospace Support
“Our employees and physicians are so committed, every
day. They use a rare combination of the highest-level medical
skill and innate human compassion. Our people deliver outstanding
care to our patients and their families while focusing on
each patient as a person with spiritual, mental and physical
--G. Richard Hastings, CEO of Saint Luke’s Hospital
of Kansas City
“I would like to encourage other health care providers
to adopt the Baldrige process and create a cultural transformation
in their organizations. As health care leaders, our responsibility
is to take great care of our employees, create an atmosphere
that fosters patient satisfaction, and do so in a safe,
--John Heer, president of Baptist Hospital Inc.
“Our simple mission is to help our customers save
time, increase their productivity and improve the quality
of their work. Our reach is large, but our size is small.
In fact, we are so small, that we brought all of our team
members to this ceremony.”
--Rob Marchalonis, general manager of Stoner Inc.
“Our teachers and students have become data-driven,
seeking out root causes of problems, using plan-do-study-act
improvement cycles, run charts, Pareto diagrams and a host
of other quality tools. Walking into any of our 537 classrooms,
you will see students using these techniques, which is an
--Robert A. McKanna, Community Consolidated School
District 15 superintendent
and European “Six Sigma in Finance” Conferences
IXPERION has scheduled this
year’s U.S. and European Six Sigma in Finance conferences
for April 20 and 21 in Chicago and May 25 and 26 in London.
The events are a response to the growing demand for an
unbiased information platform focused exclusively on Six
Sigma for finance operations that are tightly regulated
and prone to substantial financial risk. Presidents, vice
presidents and senior Six Sigma leaders will gather in Chicago
and London to discuss how to reduce variation and enrich
their strategies with Six Sigma tools.
Organizations presenting at the conference include GE
Mortgage Insurance, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, HSBC,
Zurich Financial Services, Motorola, the U.S. Mint, Lloyds
TSB, JPMorgan Fleming Asset Management, Wachovia, Capital
One, Wells Fargo Bank, Toshiba, Sun Microsystems, Skandia
and NCR Finance, among others.
Presentations at the conference will cater to those responsible
for delivering high-quality financial products to customers.
Delegates can also register for interactive Six Sigma workshops
and master classes at each conference, accruing a combination
of theoretical knowledge and practical insight on topics
such as transactional lean and Six Sigma, design for Six
Sigma in finance, project selection and creating a voice
of the customer infrastructure. For more information about
the conferences, or to register, visit www.ixperion.com.
Registrar Secures AS9100 Accreditation
Orion Registrar has been accredited
to perform audits to the AS91000 aerospace standard by ANSI-RAB.
AS9100 is an international aerospace standard for quality
assurance in design, development, production, installation
and servicing. It’s based on the requirements of ISO
9001:2000, but it also includes government, regulatory and
industry-specific requirements. It incorporates requirements
of both civil and military aviation aerospace applications.
For more information about Orion Registrar, visit www.orion4value.com.
LaserMike Receives Ultrasonic Snap Technology Patent
Beta LaserMike, a manufacturer
of precision measurement and control systems, has received
a patent for its Snap Technology software contained within
the UltraScan DSP ultrasonic wall thickness measurement
Used by manufacturers of extruded plastic pipe, tube and
cable products, the UltraScan measurement system provides
measurement and control of minimum wall thickness. Previous
incarnations of the testing system required complicated
setup for each product. Snap Technology allows users to
begin their extrusion line and immediately measure a product’s
wall thickness. The UltraScan DSP automatically finds the
product and begins to measure immediately, requiring only
a simple size calibration. To learn more, visit www.betalasermike.com.
Software and Aegis Announce Partnership
Aegis, a leader in industrial
software in manufacturing productivity, and Statit’s
e-Server technology will be combined to provide Web-based
SPC reporting to Aegis’ customers. Aegis will now
integrate its manufacturing execution system into Statit
Software’s e-Server technology.
Aegis’ iMonitor software will provide data to Statit’s
e-Server for analysis and will then be able to query e-Server
for results, reacting by issuing out-of-control alarms and
providing the end user with SPC charts via the Web. For
more information, visit www.statit.com.
Integrates WebSlide Software With COOLSCOPE VS
Nikon Instruments Inc. has
signed an exclusive agreement with Bacus Laboratories Inc.
to integrate Bacus’ WebSlide virtual microscopy software
with the enhanced version of its digital COOLSCOPE VS.
The agreement will enable pathologists, educators and
researchers to produce, view and distribute virtual slide
images of their glass slide specimens. By combining Bacus’
software technology with COOLSCOPE’s digital capabilities,
users will be able to capture the entire specimen area (or
portions of it) at high resolution and automatically assemble
it into a virtual slide to view it. The combined technologies
enable users to view specimens through a standard Internet
For more information about the COOLSCOPE VS, visit www.coolscope.com.
To learn more about Bacus Laboratories, visit www.bacuslabs.com.