What is ISO 9001 and how can it improve your business' reputation with clients and customers?
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ISO accreditation is becoming increasingly valued by businesses in the UK, with the latest ISO survey reporting an annual 3% rise in the number of certificates issued to organisations. The most popular of these standards is ISO 9001, a quality management standard that can be implemented by businesses in almost every industry sector.
Below, we explore some of the main benefits that organisations can enjoy when implementing the ISO 9001 system, no matter what industry they operate in.
Deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction
Without satisfied customers, businesses falter. Fortunately, the ISO 9001 quality management system features a number of factors that empower businesses to deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction.
At its core, the quality management system helps businesses streamline their processes. You’ve probably seen the results of inefficient processes at some point in your career. Unhappy customers, missed deadlines, stressed employees and spiralling costs are just some of the problems that poor processes can lead to.
ISO 9001 is based on the principle of continual improvement. The standard allows businesses to define what a quality product should be, and how customers’ needs should be met. It then gives companies the framework to regularly review whether these needs are being met, with the objective of continuous improvement.
These more robust processes mean less errors are made, whether by ensuring an employee knows how to handle all situations they’re thrown into, or ensuring a product is made with an appropriate manufacturing process. The result is a better outcome for the customer: a higher level of service and a better product.
Better business processes don’t just improve customer satisfaction, they lead to more revenue and profit too. As we’ve seen, better processes lead to happier customers, as their needs are met. Satisfied customers lead to referral business, helping your business to grow organically alongside your existing marketing efforts.
Happy customers are also the key for success for companies with business models that focus on recurring revenue, since it’s much cheaper to retain a customer than to gain a new one. The result is reduced customer churn, leading to faster business growth.
Improved processes also result in greater efficiency within your organisation. By following industry best practices and focusing on quality, you can reduce your costs and minimise waste, improving profit margins.
The ISO 9001 system requires businesses to keep a documented system along with an error log, making it easy to step back and review your day-to-day systems. This helps you iron out any unwanted issues, unneeded complexities, and anything hindering your efficiency.
Improve your tender process
If you want to gain new business by joining a tender process, then ISO 9001 can help. ISO accreditation is required for many tenders, particularly for big companies, who need to ensure their supply chain performs to the highest standards.
The vast majority of Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) ask for ISO 9001. By holding this certification, you can often increase your chances of achieving that all important ‘A*’ grade.
Without this accreditation, applicants typically have to work harder to prove their processes are of equal calibre to an ISO 9001 calibre business, which more often than not is an uphill struggle.
Accreditation to ISO 9001 can also open doors to winning tenders abroad. The ISO standard is written and maintained by a team of international industry experts, helping to make it relevant to markets around the world. As a result, the standard is recognised in 188 countries.
This level of recognition is perfect for companies looking to export or do business abroad, as certification to a global standard does wonders for building trust with your potential client, supplier or business partner.
Make better business decisions
Good management practices are based on the use of facts, ensuring all decisions are made based on objective information. As we’ve seen, ISO 9001 is based on data, particularly thanks to its focus on robust record keeping, covering your document handling process from start to finish.
Through the process of continual improvement, by looking at processes and refining them, there is a strong emphasis on fact-based decision making — making smart decisions a standard part of your business, as well as proving your reliability to stakeholders and business partners.