Certified but your customers come to audit you?

Photo: Richard Mathews – “Welcome” by Flickr

You have all the necessary certificates – IFS, BRC, ISO – giving you permission to deliver your customer. However, he will visit you to carry out an audit. You observe that there are more and more customers coming to audit you.

This finding raises questions about the value of these certificates, on which your organisation spends so many resources. The idea behind certification is that there are just fewer audits. This is still the case.

A certificate is an excellent starting point to show that the quality management system is in order. Indeed, it saves you a lot of time. Without, you would have even more audits and questionnaires. The customers come in fact to visit you for the following reasons:

  • The product is of strategic importance for your customer
  • He wishes to verify on the spot whether the risk avoiding measures are well implemented
  • The customer has additional requirements compared to the certification schedules
  • Your customer needs also to show, the guarantee that all requirements are fulfilled
  • The customer’s name is on the product. For him it’s important to know, who is producing his product and under which circumstances

So it’s essential to prepare yourself for a customer visit. An audit is a specific moment meeting and of evaluation. Show yourself from the best side by:

  • Preparing well the audit, by focussing on the customer, put its records standby
  • Records: complaint records, product data, specifications, allergens, current affairs, the “standard” topics and interesting developments of the company
  • Announce the visit to your colleagues, the objectives and the importance of this audit. Assure yourself that the timings on the audit program are respected. Monitor the day program for your customer.
  • Complete an eventual questionnaire well before the audit
  • Find out whether your customer has specific requirements in addition to your quality management system or your products. Integrate these requirements in your documentation and your product formulation

A good preparation results in an audit which runs smoothly. Assure yourself of a relaxed ambiance during the audit. Be open to the customer’s remarks and integrate them in your improvement plan.

By doing it this way, the customer audit get more interesting and you can take more profit for your company. The customer will go home with a good feeling. The audit is valuable for both parties. What else do you wish?

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