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IAF Task Force Responds to Customer Satisfaction Survey

Washington, DC, Dec 16, 2003

A task force of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) met to develop recommendations to improve satisfaction among customers of services provided by IAF and its member accreditation bodies (ABs) in response to results of an IAF survey.

In the context of the ISO 9000 series of standards for quality management systems, “accreditation” refers to the formal recognition by a specialized body - an accreditation body - that a certification body is competent to carry out ISO 9000 certification in specified business sectors.

In the U.S., the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in a partnership with the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB), provides a National Accreditation Program (NAP) for quality and environmental management systems registrars.

The IAF task force agreed that ABs and certification/registration bodies (CRBs) need to work together in partnership to ensure the integrity of accredited certification and to deliver effective and valued services to the end user.

IAF’s global customer satisfaction survey was conducted by Burke Inc. to gather feedback from the CRB customers of the AB members of IAF. Survey results were reviewed by the IAF general assembly during the September 2003 IAF Plenary meeting in Bratislava, and the IAF Executive Committee appointed the task force to consider the findings, determine the areas of greatest opportunity for improvement, and present an action plan.

The five target issues identified are:

  1. Completes accreditation procedure in a timely manner
  2. Responds quickly to requests for extension of scope
  3. Has open clear communications with me
  4. Treats me as a valued customer
  5. Provides services that are a good value for the money

In a two-day meeting, the task force reviewed the survey results and confirmed the findings on the basis of regional research results known to task force members, as well as direct customer feedback. Task force members reviewed best practices among ABs and CRBs, including initiatives already under way.

The recommendations proposed by the team included some directed specifically at IAF and others directed at IAF member ABs. The task force considered such things as the need to more clearly define roles and responsibilities within accreditation and certification processes and to clarify expectations of all involved.

An action plan including specific recommendations relating to each of the five key issues will be presented to the IAF Executive Committee at its meeting March 2-3, 2004, in Vancouver, BC. The recommendations will include timelines for implementation.

Task force members include representatives of ABs and CRBs in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. An observer from the IAF Executive Committee also participated in the task force meeting.

The International Accreditation Forum, Inc. (IAF) is the world association of conformity assessment accreditation bodies and other bodies interested in conformity assessment. It primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment which reduces risk for business and its customers by assuring them that accredited certificates may be relied upon.

This article is based upon a December 16, 2003 news release issued by the ANSI-RAB NAP program. For more information, please contact Bob King (tel: 888-722-2440 or 414-272-3937).

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel