Customers… Love Them or Hate Them?

Source: Google Chrome

Every business needs customers. Whether you sell products or services, without someone paying you at the end or throughout the process, your company won’t be around long if the money doesn’t come to pay for the expenses, plus a little for the business and yourself!

As many of you have likely experienced from your personal experiences, it can be fun when you are the buyer of a product or user of a service, but if you are the manufacturer or provider and it’s the weekend, how much fun is it then? What about the customer that is constantly asking for more and whatever you do for them, it just isn’t enough?

Let’s look at customers that want special products. It is typical to identify exactly what they want, document it, and to also review and agree up front on how the product(s) will be inspected. Since these are not ‘stock’ items, they should also be non-returnable products if they meet the customer’s written requirements. Whether your customer has properly vetted their customers for their needs is not your concern. That is their business decision. Manufacturers are not mind readers. They are business people.

So what are you going to do when one of your larger customers has placed an order for special products, agreed to the quality inspection methods, and then goes off the reservation and over inspects the product resulting in an alleged high scrap rate? How do you like that customer now?

Source: Google Chrome

Starting an inspection of the documentation and re-checking who wanted what, and was everything properly documented is a good first step. However, if the inspection turns out to be the customer did not follow the agreed upon inspection process, here comes a customer issue. As we all should know by now, no one can inspect quality into a product, especially if it is a perceived cleanliness issue. Understanding the cleanliness of a product is crucial as there is a very big difference between a ‘White Room,’ a Class 100,000, and a Class 10,000 room. If cleanliness for a Class 100,000 room was agreed to, then there is no way for the products ever to be acceptable if they are inspected to a Class 10,000 level.

Companies that deal in Special, or Custom orders for non-implants need to always be on alert for ‘perceived requirements.’ Better to use more documentation and add it to the work orders than assume everyone has the same idea of what the final product will be.

If Special products are not normal for your business, but still happen on occasion, a good robust Work Instruction covering all aspects of the product, methods to manufacture, inspection methods, and cleanliness needs should be on a checklist with quality, manufacturing, and possibly the customer signing off to reduce any issues after delivery of the products. Being pro-active is much less intense than troubleshooting with a customer that hasn’t paid for the product, and decides to change the requirements on their own after receipt of the product.

Source: Google Chrome

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