To achieve and retain an international quality standard like ISO9001 can be challenging, requiring the ongoing commitment of an entire organisation. When it comes to transcription, it is worth seeking out a provider that meets this standard, since it guarantees not just more accurate transcripts, but also the very best customer service.
ISO9001 is an established quality standard recognised all over the world, setting out seven clear principles of quality management including continuous improvement, customer focus and relationship management.
An organisation wanting to achieve the standard must comply with strict requirements across ten specific areas, adopting a ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ approach. Every three years, an accredited auditor checks that the standard is still being met, and if it is, renews the accreditation.
So far, so simple.
In practice it’s a bit more complicated, as Appen’s Quality and Innovation Manager Morag Van Niekerk explains:
“Although formal reaccreditation happens every three years, there is an annual ‘surveillance audit’. It is extremely thorough, a bit like an Ofsted inspection, and covers all our management systems and processes; in particular how we record, investigate and act on customer feedback.”
Following the surveillance audit the auditor can issue advice, called either a ‘potential non-compliance’ or a ‘non-compliance’. To retain its accreditation an organisation must prove that it has taken action to address these issues.
Appen has been ISO9001-accredited since 2003, and was re-certified to a new, more demanding version of the standard in 2015.
For a transcription provider, complying with ISO9001 starts with recruiting only the best transcribers and running a rigorous, ongoing training programme. It also means putting in place a process for checking the quality of every single transcript, and reporting and tackling any problems that arise.
However, ISO9001 also looks at issues like pricing, turnaround times and importantly, customer service.
“Appen offers bespoke pricing and turnaround times, but we also want to be sure our customer service meets the needs of all our clients. Measuring customer satisfaction – finding out what our clients think of our services – is essential, so we ask for feedback after every transcript and conduct an annual customer survey,” says Morag.
The survey asks how likely clients are to recommend Appen and gets them to rate its services. In 2018, respondents gave Appen an NPS (Net Promoter Score) of 82; a ‘world class’ rating.
Clients also praised the company’s “excellent customer service” and “accurate transcripts” both central components of the ISO9001 standard.
Morag believes ISO9001 has given Appen the impetus and tools to improve services – but it’s an ongoing process.
“It’s a continuous cycle,” she says. “We’re always looking for ways to do things better, whether that’s increasing the accuracy of transcripts, offering more flexible pricing options or providing transcripts in a wider range of formats. But once we make a change, it’s important to check back with the customers to find out if we got it right, and what else we can do to help.”
More and more clients are specifying ISO9001 compliance when tendering for transcription services, and no wonder. As Appen’s experience (and a growing body of independent research) shows, the standard provides an invaluable framework for continuous improvement, with more meaningful, two-way communication with clients at its heart.
Find out more about ISO9001 at: iso.org