10 Ways To Drive Customers To Your Business
Management system standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 50001, ISO 27001 and ISO 14001 play an important role in the businesses of today. One benefit of them that's often overlooked is their ability to drive customers to your company. Too often, management sees ISO certification as a nuisance done for compliance purposes or, at best, a method of monitoring and evaluation. When properly understood and implemented, however, standards/systems can be a vital tool for engaging customers and stakeholders — often in surprising ways.
Here are 10 ways you can use management systems and standards to grow your business.
1. Improving Customer Satisfaction
The most obvious benefit to standards is improved quality. Management systems such as ISO 9001 are designed to deliver consistency in each product or service you offer. They are scalable to allow for future growth, ensuring that no matter where your business takes you, quality won’t be compromised.
Customers are attracted to quality, and your ability to deliver on this promise is essential to retaining them over the long term.
“Certification allows you to understand what your business does in terms of customer focus. Once you have that in place you can improve on it and deliver ongoing quality management.” Virgin Media Business
2. Resolving And Responding To Incidents
It’s often said that the best businesses see complaints and other satisfaction issues as an opportunity to go the extra mile and win a customer for life. While any operation should pride itself on a stellar reputation, the ability to turn around a tense situation and demonstrate your ability to resolve incidents is a measure of your professionalism and customer focus.
ISO and related standards provide a formal framework for addressing quality issues and taking corrective action. They also include reporting and documentation requirements that can improve transparency and accountability, allowing you to pinpoint where things went wrong and prevent them from recurring.
“The safety critical nature of our work means that quality is the highest priority to us in everything that we do. Our certification body NQA makes a positive input to this by understanding the on call nature of our business and by applying a cost effective and consistently high standard of audit surveillance across our multi-site.” Caparo Testing Technologies
3. Promoting Your Added Value
The internet has made today's customers more informed and research-driven than ever before. While it used to be that knowledge of ISO standards was limited to specific industries, a growing segment of the general public now looks to them as a measure of your commitment to quality. For example, ISO 50001 (energy management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management) certification are now seen much in the same way as LEED or ENERGY STAR® registration — clear indicators of your commitment to sustainable business practices.
“From the start, we were very clear about what we wanted to achieve and NQA worked to support our aims and values. After long discussions we were confident that we could work together to achieve our objectives.” Costa
4. Expanding Your Horizons
The bigger your customer base, the more people will be driven your way by your reputation for quality and service excellence. Standards are a useful tool for strategic business planning that can identify where your strengths are and which markets you can move into. It can also prepare you to take the next steps by implementing a continuous improvement cycle to further refine your management systems.
Whether it's adding a second location in a new territory or moving into a new industry, ISO certification helps you make smarter, data-driven decisions and ultimately expand your operations without encountering the scalability problems commonly faced by growing businesses.
5. Assessing The Competition
ISO standards don't just tell you about your business — they provide valuable intelligence about your competition, too. Standardization levels the playing field with older or more established competitors while keeping your business focused on continuous improvement. It's also a way of assessing the current gaps in your industry, allowing you to fill a needed role that will attract new customers.
“Although we were carrying out internal audits, we were only auditing to our own standards. The advantage of obtaining OHSAS 18001 is that we are now audited to agreed standards that allow us to strive for best practice as well as benchmarking ourselves against other companies.” Biffa
6. Providing Built-In Credentials
When you’re ready to grow your business, ISO certification provides instant, recognizable credentials to new customers and partners. More than 1 million organizations in over 170 countries are ISO 9001 registered, making it the most prevalent and best-known standard in the world. ISO certification is a sign of trust, and proof that you already employ industry-standard best practices throughout your operation. Because they are internationally recognized, ISO certification transcends your history and reputation, allowing you to gain a competitive edge as you move into new territories.
7. Maximizing Your Profits
Ultimately, quality management standards are a tool for lean growth, one that will actively eliminate waste, streamline your process and reduce the expenses associated with auditing and compliance. When your business spends less on daily operations, that translates more funds for growth and development projects, including marketing initiatives that will drive more customers your way.
8. Engaging Your Employees
One core tenet of ISO certification is that it makes quality the responsibility of every employee. This empowers staff to take more ownership over their actions, which can drive customers to your business in several ways. First, it ensures a high level of overall quality. Second, when employees are proud of their work, they become an active ambassador for your brand among their friends and families.
9. Preventing Reputation-Damaging Incidents
Whether it's a high-profile data breach or a workplace accident, ISO standards help you avoid incidents that can ruin your reputation. Given the speed at which information travels today, a public problem at your workplace can quickly and irreparably change the way your customers see you. Maintaining your good reputation in the eyes of your customers is especially important for small and medium businesses, who may have increased difficulty recovering from a damaging incident.
10. Planning For The Future
Most customers want to do business with companies that will be around to provide ongoing support. Management standards help make your business more stable and sustainable for the long term. ISO 9001 provides a template for continued growth while maintaining consistency and quality. ISO 27001, the management standard for information security, helps you develop more resilient systems that will be able to respond to future threats.
Environmental and energy-management standards based on the ISO 50001 and ISO 14001 frameworks are a way of future-proofing your business, preparing you for easy compliance with new regulations and providing a hedge against rising energy costs. Together, these and related systems help you deliver on your promises to customers, establishing your reputation for consistency and vision and driving more clients to your business.
No matter what industry you're in or how big your organization is, ISO certification is an investment that's worth it. Three out of five businesses enjoy increased profits after standardizing their management system, and 98 percent of certified organizations report that it was a good or excellent investment. To learn more about available standards and their certification processes, contact an NQA representative directly.