How Standard Certification Can Drive New Customer Growth
***Updated January 25, 2021***
In 2009, a survey of certified companies found that 98% of respondents rated their certification as either a “good investment” or an “excellent investment.” A later study in 2012 found that ISO certification delivered numerous concrete benefits to companies related to operational efficiency, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. In combination, these benefits operate to drive customer growth for businesses of all sizes and industries.
How Certifications Drive Customer Growth
While ISO standardization can help you grow your customer base, it can also help improve your relationship with your existing base. As an international standard, most corporate customers equate ISO standardization with quality performance, meaning ISO certification, or lack thereof, significantly affects your customers' view of your business.
What Are The Consequences Of Not Being ISO Certified?
When your business is not ISO certified, your customers may wonder why you haven't sought out certification. If you are in a highly technical field where ISO is a standard certification, a lack of certification can severely damage your reputation and image within the field. A lack of certification may suggest your company isn't employing best practices, or that you may not even be financially stable.
Even if your customers have a good view of your business, lacking an ISO certification puts you at a disadvantage, especially compared to your certified competition.
How Can ISO Certification Drive Customer Growth?
When your company is ISO certified, you show that you’re willing to do what it takes to guarantee quality results. As globally recognized standards, ISO certifications increase your credibility with customers across the world and help to solidify your relationships with them.
If you achieve a new certification, your existing clients' faith in your business may improve, as you've adequately demonstrated a dedication to implementing best practices in your business processes.
What Are The Benefits Of Standardization?
Companies that benefit from ISO certification list a variety of improvements they've experienced since implementing ISO standards. These advantages include the following:
1. Promoting Best Practices
ISO standards and associated systems lay down the framework for your company to adopt best practices recognized on an international level. Regardless of your business industry, ISO standards can help you redesign your processes and fully understand and describe them. With a better understanding and description of your systems, using business metrics to identify opportunities for employing new best practices can be easier than ever.
By employing best practices, you may be able to improve the performance of your business since you'll have the knowledge you need to optimize operations. Overall, with ISO standards, your business practices may be more efficient than before.
2. Demonstrating Reliability
When your business embraces ISO standards, you can demonstrate your reliability to your suppliers, purchasers and business partners. The quality, durability and safety of your products or services are ensured, and your business can confirm that you meet the requirements of regulation and legislation.
ISO standards also help you prepare to deal with risks, so if problems arise, your business can be better equipped to deal with them and recover faster.
3. Increasing Customer Satisfaction
ISO standards can help your company improve client satisfaction through a combination of complaint management, satisfaction monitoring and quality control. By managing and monitoring customer satisfaction and complaints, your business can quickly identify the expectations of your clients and the problem areas within your business processes.
Additionally, maintaining consistent product quality can help your company produce work that consistently meets your customers' expectations, both spoken and implied. In short, by employing ISO standards, you'll find your customers are making fewer complaints and your company is capable of resolving the remaining problems more quickly.
If your organization is looking to commercialize emerging technologies, ISO standards can help. With these standards, you can establish the integral characteristics of quality services or products. Through the implementation of ISO standards, you can demonstrate your business's credentials to your employees, customers and other stakeholders.
4. Maximizing Revenue
Any money you spend on getting certified, you can get back in significantly increased revenues. Many companies experience improved revenues after achieving an ISO certification. Compared to increases in revenue among non-certified businesses, the increases experienced by certified companies are substantially higher.
Much of this increase in revenue is the result of improved customer retention due to:
- Increased satisfaction.
- Minimized waste due to improved environmental management systems.
- A reduction in waste and inefficient or inconsistent processes.
Once your business is ISO certified, you can advertise your quality certification, along with responding to requests for quotes, all of which make an ISO certificate a must-have. As a result, ISO certification may lead to an increase in your organization's sales and revenue. If you intend to enter foreign markets, an ISO certificate can be especially important.
5. Expanding Business Horizons
Many international companies only work with certified business partners. Government organizations and their public collaborators, for example, often require one or more ISO standards as prerequisites to working with them. Additionally, international customers may not recognize some nation-specific certifications, but will usually accept ISO certifications, improving your credibility in foreign markets.
With certification in ISO standards, your company can have increased access to these new markets.
6. Proving Sustainability
In recent years, sustainability has become a major concern to consumers and companies. ISO standards can help your business prove you are committed to tackling social and environmental challenges. The standards help your business closely examine how you are using energy, resources and controlling waste.
With ISO standards, you may be able to save money and improve your company's image while also benefitting the environment. You can also implement measures that can help you prevent waste production in the first place.
7. Engaging Employees
Your internal business functions can also benefit from certification. ISO-certified companies experience:
- Better overall job satisfaction.
- Improved motivation.
- Reduced turnover.
- Less absenteeism.
- Improved communication between management and employees.
ISO certification accomplishes this by bringing management and staff together to work toward a common objective of standardization. ISO certification also empowers employees by giving them clear expectations, instructions for completing their work and actionable feedback about their performance.
Regular internal and surveillance audits ensure companies and their staff continue to implement these improvements and processes throughout the year, providing a consistent work environment. In combination, these factors improve company culture and help cultivate a more productive workforce.
By boosting staff performance, ISO certification can enhance the overall productivity of your business. When you have engaged employees, they may be more motivated to implement processes, quickly identify problems and resolve issues in a timely manner.
8. Improving Consistency
Removing or reducing variation from one product or process to the next is an essential part of maintaining customer satisfaction and reducing waste. Such consistency is a primary goal of ISO certification, as standardization helps stabilize the consistency of products and processes across an industry.
ISO certification also accomplishes this within a company by improving process control. ISO process controls include setting objectives, providing clear procedures and instructions on the process and collecting metrics to monitor successes.
Benefits affect organizations of all sizes and types, making ISO certification desirable for even small companies with few employees. However, it is important to select ISO standards that fit your business.
How Can Certification Ease The Tendering Process?
Many internationally active companies and customers turn to standardization as a way to find common ground with their partners and service providers. As an international standard, ISO serves as the best way for companies to satisfy this need for common ground. Instead of communicating why your systems meet the needs of a potential customer, your business can simply state that your company follows ISO standards, helping the bidding process go more smoothly.
Certification in ISO standards can help ease the tendering process because of the following factors:
- Advanced qualifications: ISO standards are extremely strict, requiring businesses to follow a variety of guidelines and practices before they can achieve certification. The more specific the certification, the more stringent the guidelines. By proving that your business follows ISO standards, you’ll tell your customer that your company meets the high-level qualifications they need to achieve quality results.
- Signal of trust: Businesses across the world recognize and trust ISO standards. ISO standards are used across hundreds of countries and act as a starting point for many business partnerships across international borders. By getting certified in an ISO standard, you join an elite group of trusted organizations and gain a base level of confidence from any business or customer familiar with ISO standards.
- Systems already in place: Certification to ISO standards tells your clients you're already employing the best practices in the industry. When you get certified to an ISO standard, you're showing your customers that your systems are already set up to provide the best results. By employing best practices, you're guaranteeing your customer shorter turnaround times, since your business doesn't need to make any alterations to your current system before starting on a high-level project.
Because of these factors, you can start off on the right foot with your customers and get through the tendering process more quickly. With quicker tendering processes, you can take on more projects at a faster pace, improving your revenues substantially.
What Kinds Of Standards Should Your Business Seek?
There is a variety of ISO certifications available, each of which can give your business a framework around which to implement improvements. Depending on the type of industry your business serves, you may seek one of the following standardizations:
ISO 9001 — Quality Management System
The ISO 9001 standard is an internationally recognized system for standardizing quality management systems (QMSs) across a variety of industries. With over 1 million certificates issued in more than 170 countries, ISO 9001 is the most widely used QMS standard worldwide.
ISO 9001 provides a blueprint of principles and processes for companies to manage their organizations in a consistent manner. These practical approaches improve organizations’ supply and production standards to improve consistency and quality, thereby maximizing stakeholder satisfaction.
Almost any company in any industry can benefit from ISO 9001, and certification in ISO 9001 is a prerequisite for certification in a variety of other industry-specific standards. The value of ISO 9001 lies in its universal management principles:
- Customer-focused organization
- Effective leadership
- Involvement of staff and management
- Detailed process approaches
- Systematic approaches to management
- Factual approaches to decision-making
- Symbiotic supplier relationships
- Dedication to continuous improvement
This universally applicable focus is the reason why so many industry-specific certifications use ISO 9001 as their basis. For example, ISO 13485 includes specific requirements necessary for the medical devices industry. For all these industry-specific certifications, ISO 9001 is a logical and necessary starting point.
ISO 14001 — Environmental Management System
The ISO 14001 standard is an internationally recognized framework for implementing environmental management systems (EMSs) within industries of all types. With more than 360,000 certifications issued globally, ISO 14001 is the most commonly used EMS worldwide.
Organizational management of a company’s environmental impact is a matter of high priority in our increasingly environmentally minded world. Therefore, regardless of your company's industry, creating a system of processes and procedures to address environmental concerns is crucial.
Environmental management systems set the framework for such processes, the best of which comes with ISO 14001. The standard addresses the establishment, implementation, maintenance and continuous improvement of an EMS, which can help environmentally minded businesses accomplish the following:
- Control your environmental aspects.
- Reduce impacts.
- Ensure legal compliance.
- Control material costs.
While other EMS systems are available on the market, ISO 14001 is the most internationally recognized and respected of all EMS framework guidelines. Such credentials provide companies with a strong foundation upon which they can grow their business and market reach, while simultaneously declaring their dedication to environmental and economic sustainability.
This kind of certification is an appropriate choice for companies looking to reduce their environmental impact and show concrete evidence of doing so for the sake of their stakeholders.
ISO 45001 — Health And Safety Management System
The ISO 45001 is also known as the International Occupational Health and Safety Standard. ISO 45001 provides guidelines for occupational health and safety (OHS), including managing risks and ensuring compliance with federal regulations. Instead of focusing on products or processes themselves, this standard primarily addresses employee interactions with the products and processes.
By following the guidelines set down by ISO 45001, businesses can achieve the following:
- Identify and prevent workplace hazards through effective control implementation.
- Prevent injury and disease among staff.
- Reduce downtime due to accidents.
- Ensure compliance with legislative requirements.
- Identify needs for training or proven competency.
- Improve productivity and morale.
If you’re looking for a way to minimize workplace incidents and show that your company is implementing best-practice safety management, ISO 45001 may be the best certification for your organization.
ISO 27001 — Information Security Management System
The ISO 27001 standard provides a blueprint for companies to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS). ISMSs enable companies to manage the accessibility, confidentiality and integrity of information by providing a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information. The management system is designed to involve people, processes and IT systems in management while also applying a practical process for managing risk.
Implementing the ISO 27001 standard is the best way for companies to respond to customer expectations and the legal requirements of the Data Protection Act and other legislation. ISMSs like those outlined by ISO 27001 are excellent ways to protect against potential security threats, including:
- Personal data breaches
- Vandalism and terrorism
- Fire and other physical damage
- Data misuse
- Data and physical theft
- Viral attack
Companies can use the ISO 27001 standard by itself or in combination with other management system standards. The standard is also technology- and vendor-neutral, meaning any company can apply ISO 27001 standards to any IT platform. Therefore, any company, regardless of the IT platform they use, the size of their organization or the industry in which they operate, can use ISO 27001 to help secure their business information.
If your organization wants to implement best practices in your computer security, or if you want to provide evidence to your stakeholders that you are adequately protecting your business information, ISO 27001 may be the right certification for your needs.
ISO 50001 — Energy Management System
The ISO 50001 standard is an international standard designed to help companies implement energy management systems. ISO 50001 provides a broad framework for enterprises to develop, deploy and improve their energy management systems so they can optimize their energy efficiency.
Certification in the ISO 50001 standard is perfect for companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to responsible energy management, especially in industries closely tied to the energy market. Energy management systems can help businesses:
- Lead other companies by example.
- Meet legislative energy requirements.
- Cut costs associated with energy expenditures.
- Improve public and stakeholder opinion of business energy practices.
ISO 50001 is an excellent choice for certification if your organization is looking to improve your energy management. By taking control of the way you use energy, your company can stand among the leaders in energy efficiency, cutting costs and showing other industry organizations that energy efficiency is an attainable and cost-effective goal for their businesses.
How Can You Achieve Certification?
If you're seeking ISO certification for your organization, NQA can help you get there. NQA has issued more than 50,000 certificates across more than 90 countries, helping organizations of all sizes and industries develop better:
- Product and service quality
- Environmental and energy sustainability
- Health and safety management systems
At NQA, our accredited certification, training and support services have helped our clients get results more quickly, regardless of the size or scope of their organization. More importantly, we make sure these results continue to improve with each passing year.
We strive to help our clients improve their processes and products to deliver the best possible customer service. We offer an approach that is both supportive and pragmatic while at the same time meeting the integrity and technical demands of accredited certification. If you want to learn more about the services NQA offers or you’d like to consult with us about achieving your ISO certification, please contact us today.