Editor's Note: The reaction to our ISO 9000
Registrar Customer Satisfaction Survey was overwhelming--we received more letters on this article than on any other article we've ever published. Most of the letters expressed dismay
that we failed to publish the full data on each registrar surveyed. We certainly agree that publishing all the data would have made for a much more interesting survey; however, we strongly believe that we had
to err on the side of caution when reporting the results because this was the first survey of its kind. As mentioned in our July issue, we do intend
to publish the full results of our next survey. Although space limitations prevented us from publishing all of your letters, we have selected a representative sample.
I applaud you for taking a bold first step toward providing accurate, worthwhile information to your readers. I was initially disappointed that you
did not publish the whole list, but now your advertisers have fair warning for next year.
I do not believe it is fair to have only the registrars that are above the mean named. Name all or none. I do like that you gave the information to all
registrars to use as a continuous improvement tool. I question the helpfulness category. My experience is some registrars do help more than they should. I
also know of two companies that were audited and had no minor or major [nonconformances]. I worked at those companies, and unless they had a 100-percent turnaround in top management, those auditors had to have a
ISO/QS Team Facilitator
Thanks for writing an article that reveals the truth about registrars. Those
registrars that fear this and tried to retaliate must fear the truth. They are the registrars that should be put out of business anyway. I think it would be great
to publish each registrar's ranking. This is the way that Consumer Reports evaluates all of the attributes of whatever it is evaluating. Like Consumer Reports
, it might be interesting to include the average cost of an assessment audit or an entire contract for that registrar. That way, one could see whether
the companies that ranked highest cost the most, the least or were in the middle somewhere. In other words, if you pay more do you get a better audit?
Quality Systems Manager
Alcatel Telecommunications Cable
If you were surprised that some service suppliers thought they would go out of business if the results were published, I say too bad! Which is
worse--finding out from a Quality Digest article that you have a weakness or by watching customers leave you based on word of mouth or other complaint
media? I would think all of the service suppliers would be thrilled to receive an impartial survey with which to benchmark their competition. I can
guarantee that the smaller (and oftentimes hungrier) registrar will devour these results and use it as fuel to drive their improvement activities.
Director of Manufacturing
The essential question you are facing is whether you are journalists, dedicated to truth and information dissemination, or whether you are merely a conduit
for advertisements. I hope you choose to be journalists.
As for the registrar industry, it is coming due for a well-deserved shake-up.
The key issue for registrars is the odd relationship they have with their customers. They are hired to provide criticism. Too much and the registrar is
likely to loose the contract. Too little and insufficient value is returned for the investment. So how do they balance this? This equation is further complicated
by the widely different customer needs and expectations. Some customers believe they are paying the fee to get the certificate and expect that the
registrar will "guarantee" a passing grade. Others have a more realistic understanding of the process and realize that the criticism provided will only
serve to strengthen their quality system and their corporation. Registrars must ultimately rely upon the personality of the auditors they send out in the field to understand these competing forces.
We need honest truthful journalistic inquiries into this industry. If the result is that you lose ad revenue, and/or average or poorly organized registrars are
put out of business, so much the better. This is an industry crying out for help, even if it results in a few casualties.
I think that you should have published all the results of your survey, not only the ones that came out on top. If a registrar has issues that caused it to score
lower, those issues are important for companies searching for a registrar to know about. If any registrar has a substandard ranking, it should be trying to
improve, rather than trying to keep that information from the public. I think your survey has lost credibility. It's a shame that your advertisers threatened
to pull their ads if you published their lower ranking in your survey--that tells me they have something to hide.
Quality Assurance Manager
Industrial Electric Wire & Cable Inc.
It's too bad that Quality Digest bailed out and lost sight of what your
customers really wanted to know. For those companies that are already registered, we want to know how our registrar measured up. For those
companies that are pursuing registration, it could have been a useful tool in the registrar selection process. [Also,] if you have ever been through the selection
process, you would know that prices vary significantly. It would have been beneficial if a cost factor had been included. While the rationale is somewhat
sound for not publishing all the results, it really comes down to being held accountable for performance. In the end, I feel that it was only the advertisers
that benefited from this article because it certainly didn't give the readers any overall perspective of how the registrars measure up against their competition.
--Mark W. DeGrandchamp
Director of World Wide Quality
American Power Conversion
Three stars for your ISO 9000 Customer Satisfaction Survey. For an initial
thrust into this "forbidden area," your summary article was well-written and objective. With regard to publishing each registrar's rankings, I say go for it!
Each of the registrars has one year to get ready, and if any of them does not want rankings published, go ahead and honor their request/threat and add a
footnote stating the same. I personally guarantee that I (and probably others) want nothing to do with firms that are afraid to stand up to a review of their
performance by their customers. We in the quality profession must be in front to establish continuous improvement in our respective industries.
Manager, Quality Assurance
I agree with the need for such a survey, but I don't agree that the results were favorable. The scores obtained were well below what I would have
considered "favorable." In an industry where customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal of the standard they're applying, the scores should have been much higher.
Your survey excluded one major issue, that is, what the company's expectations are. Many of those I've audited only want to achieve registration
because it's required by their customers. They have not bought into the concept of audits adding value.
It is because of this concern that I recommended to the RAB, at the recent
Annual Quality Congress (AQC), that they sponsor an industry discussion on the credibility of the ISO-registration process. I suggested that registrars not
be included due to their inherent conflict of interest. I know several other representatives at the AQC who voiced similar concerns to the RAB. I
believe there are enough concerned quality professionals out there, with the same concerns, who are willing to participate in such a discussion. Something
needs to be done. Your survey was a start. Let's continue the improvement efforts.
--Gary O. Feres
It is interesting that one of the reasons that was given for publishing only the "above-the-mean" data was the fear that we in the quality community would
perceive registrars that fell below the mean as "bad" companies. This statement is basically saying that there is a concern that readers of the article
do not understand the proper usage of statistical data and that they would misuse the data and findings. Maybe some would, but that position certainly
shows a lack of faith in the ability and knowledge of the quality professionals that have major input in the selection of ISO 9000 registrars.
Even if the worst fears of the below-the mean registrars were realized, that we as a group did perceive the below-the-mean companies as suspect, why
should registration companies be treated differently than the rest of the business community? Do registration firms really believe that their business
segment is more competitive than other business segments? Doesn't the ISO 9000 registrar customer base deserve to have the same consumer information that JD Powers, Consumer Reports
, etc., provide for other products and services?
MSC Specialty Films Inc.