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Laboratory accreditation

I’m the quality manager of a small dimensional calibration laboratory, and although I agree with most aspects of the article on outsourcing calibration (July 2002), I would like to respectfully add that not all ISO 17025 laboratory accreditations are indications of a technically proficient laboratory quality system. NVLAP- and A2LA-accredited laboratories must pass many additional requirements for accreditation that typical ISO 17025 accreditations don’t require. NVLAP and A2LA require extensive work in the area of calculating measurement uncertainties that ensure the values reported by these labs are valid. Additionally, rigorous proficiency-testing to prove the uncertainties claimed is also required. This proficiency testing is controlled by an accredited third-party proficiency-testing provider. The long and short of it is that not all ISO 17025 accreditations are created equal. NVLAP and A2LA are the only accreditations accepted outside of the United States.

--Jim Hoard

Grading customer service

Editor’s note: We received more than 100 responses to Scott M. Paton’s July editorial, “Grading Customer Service.” We’ve included as many as possible.

Among the atheists, civil libertarians, and those who have enough power and/or money to believe that they’re above the law, we’ve lost the lesson of “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

As much as we’d like to blame management, this sore point begins at home. The simple lack of courtesy that’s so important to customer service is so very lacking in the youngest of children and their parents. I suppose management trained these parents, but as a free nation, it’s parental choice to show lack of courtesy to teachers and set the example for their own kids.

--Jeff Pfouts
Allied Machine

I’m only 39, but I can’t figure out how American society has managed to foster such a thankless, self-indulgent cohort of service-position employees. You’ve got to give bad parenting (or some other societal factors) as much of the blame for the state of customer service as bad management.

--Mark Breen
Dover Flexo Electronics

The way customer service (or any employee) treats the customer is a direct result of the way management treats the employee. The state of some of the worst offenders in customer service is a direct result of management’s insensitivity to both the employee and the customer.

If the employee is often (or constantly) berated but never coached and evaluated with proper rewards for good performance, can one expect good service--much less ask the employee to understand the emotional needs of the customer in any given exchange? Too many managers view the management position as RIP--retire in place--rather than as coach and mentor.

--David L. Mason
Mason Corp.

I believe there are two fundamental reasons why customer service is getting worse:

1. Hopelessly declining morals and individuals who won’t accept absolutes regarding right and wrong. Young people’s current standards of morality are frightening.

2. Top management greed. In the mad policy that profit is only good for top management, there’s simply little or nothing in the budget for customer service.

It’s unfortunate that given all of our productivity advances we’re unable to achieve a civilized society. But too few individuals care about the Golden Rule:

* Christianity: “Do for others what you want them to do for you.” (Matthew 7:12)

* Judaism: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

* Islam: “No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Traditions)

* Buddhism: “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.” (Udanavarga 5:18)

* Hinduism: “Good people proceed while considering that what is best for others is best for themselves. (Hitopadesa)

* Confucianism: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” (Analects 15:23)

--John Posen