Although customer satisfaction is at the very heart of ISO 9001, many are surprised to discover that the word ‘customer’ is not actually included in the ISO 9000 definition of the term ‘quality’. Why is that?

Well it is simply because quality is about meeting requirements per se, and although the central focus is going to be on the customer, organisations must ensure they do not focus solely on the customer to the exclusion of other requirements which come from various interested parties.  Let’s look at some examples:

A construction company must acknowledge that those living near to construction sites are in danger of dust and noise pollution. One letter to a local authority could prove to be very disruptive. Even today, people are still dying from the asbestos issues caused by an East London factory in the late sixties.

A logistics company may deliver goods on behalf of a leading online store but if a confidential item accidentally goes to the wrong recipient, then the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) may get a phone call. Irrespective of who is the “data processor”, an incident like this could cause harm to all parties.

A utilities company who accidentally pollutes a river will find themselves on the end of a huge fine from the Environment Agency. Only last December, Thames Water received a £2M fine.

The Extinction Rebellion environmental activists’ group have just announced that they are planning to shut down Heathrow Airport during the peak holiday season this summer.

Underestimate the power of interested parties at your peril!

So ‘quality’ is quite an elusive term and can be extremely broad. Many organisations are rebranding their ‘quality management system’ to be a ‘business management system’. The business and quality are one and the same, as a business needs to meet all its relevant requirements, wherever they come from.

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What is ISO 9001?

How to measure customer satisfaction