Corrective Action: Three Most Important Things you can do
The unthinkable has happened. You’ve operated for years without so much as a dark cloud on the horizon and now a customer has notified you of a corrective action because of a barcode failure.
What are the three most important things to do?
Corrective Action – First, Don’t Freak Out
I’ll start with what you absolutely shouldn’t do—and this doesn’t count against the big three most important things you must do. The one thing you shouldn’t do is freak out. That won’t help your organization deal with the present emergency, and panic isn’t what you want to convey to your customer.
Think of a corrective action as a very important opportunity to communicate with your customer, and I’m going to assume this is an important customer. Are there any unimportant customers these days? Or ever?
- 1. The first thing to do is communicate: call the customer immediately; tell them how concerned you are and how important it is to you, to make the situation right. Tell them how important they are to you and how diligently you will pursue understanding the problem, solving it now and preventing it in the future.
Corrective Action: Don’t Schmooz, Communicate!
This is not a schmooze. You could lose more than just money on this one job here—like I’m telling you something you don’t already know. But communicating s I suggest above leads you to what may be the single most important thing you can do.
- 2. Get out your file copies of the job in question and examine the barcodes and your verification reports, assuming you retained them. Even in you did, request copies of the failed barcodes from your customer.
This may take some diplomacy, but it is vitally important that you get theses from the customer. Numerous times people have told me that customers are reluctant—or flat out refuse—to send back samples in a corrective action situation. Don’t stand for this—but do it diplomatically.
You may need to promise to return them or you may need to settle for examining them at the customer’s site. Whatever it takes, get your hands on them, scrutinize them with your verifier, and a low power magnifier. Compare them to your own printed samples, verification reports and records for this job. Bring the QA manager with you. This is important.
- 3. Based on your internal records and what you learn from the customer’s samples and corrective action write-up, figure out what happened and what to do about it, and (very important) communicate this to your customer. This is how you demonstrate in action what you said in number 1. Action is what counts here, and when you do what you say, you gain credibility.
Remember when I referred to this as an opportunity (see paragraph 4 above)? I wasn’t kidding. Right now you are getting an important—and maybe an expensive—education. How you behave will tell your customer if you’ve been paying attention in class and getting smarter. The opportunity here is for you to become an even better vendor—or to become a chaotic bundle of nerves that cannot perform under pressure. Which of these do you think your customer wants as a vendor?
A Corrective Action is an Opportunity Disguised as a Problem
If you need help with #3—or if you don’t have any job samples or verification reports, or if you don’t know what caused the barcode problem, consider hiring an independent barcode test lab to help you. Some labs will even go with you to the customer to help you learn all you can from the event. A really good lab will then work with you to improve (or design) your quality program to prevent future problems.
Painful as it may be, a quality corrective action is a huge opportunity to demonstrate your earnestness about becoming and being the best vendor your customer could ever want.