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Facing a day of hell - Audit from awkward customer


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GMO

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:39 AM

We have a customer who is the customer from hell. The complaints from them have increased recently, to be fair to them, it's mainly on issues on a product we should never have launched with. This product is delisting in a month's time (I can't wait). Also though they have rejected two batches of product now on spurious reasons which have been found to be false. I know this is because they came in to see my managing director to try and extend payment terms and reduce costs, both of which we refused. They are trying to build a case with their customer to delist us.

And now we have an audit.

I just know that today I'm going to be treated as their whipping boy to add fuel to the fire. Let's face it, even in the best factory (and this is not the best factory) there will be issues found by auditors, especially if they approach with a sheer bloody minded attitude.

Problem is, these things can be self fulfilling. I don't want to approach it all with a grumpy head on. :thumbdown:

Wish me luck.



Cranberry

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:51 AM

Good Luck!

I've been in a similar situation, with the added complication of the 2 company's MDs having a stand up argument at a mutual friend's wedding the week before. I took my day of abuse and cheerfully acknowledged any (genuine) issues the auditor brought up.

Guess it is one of those days you look back at with a glass of whiskey and think, should have been a Librarian.

All the best



Simon

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:41 AM

Good luck, do the best you can, smile, be humble and honest. If you are not treated with the same respect then bite your tongue a little, but if it becomes unreasonable then show them the door. Yes they are a customer and an auditor, but just another person.

Tomorrow is another day.

Best of luck GMO.

Regards,
Simon


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Anne Z

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:14 PM

Good luck GMO! Like Simon says smile...and well wear a nice dress. It sometimes help ; )



GMO

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:03 AM

Ha! Well I prejudged it. He was a nice guy actually, thorough but we still came out with a good result. He seemed very non political when I mentioned something about complaints (we've been having several complaints from them we've challenged) he waved it aside.

Glad it's over, it was hanging over my head for weeks.

It's horrible when a customer is trying to play politics. My MD just shrugged this morning and said "if they want to delist xx product then they can but we will tell them we won't make their less profitable niche products either and we can go out and replace their business tomorrow. It's not a problem but well done on the audit."

Something I've noticed a lot recently with audits though. It's my top tip for managing auditors. Auditing is a lonely job. Imagine every day of your working life being the "unwelcome guest" and not being able to chat to people without them being on edge. Be nice, be friendly, don't be too stiff and formal and listen to their stories. I've only had one auditor not respond to that the rest all end up easing up halfway through. It's my top tip folks :whistle:



Charles.C

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:06 AM

Dear GMO,

Generous thoughts. :smile:

IMHO as an auditor (aka the Inspector), all factories are Evaders of the Truth. The difference is in (a) the amount, (b) the degree of associated risk, © the degree of intentionality and (d) the ease of Detectability.

In my case, especially at a first audit, attempts at overt bonhomie are regarded as an upward needle for (a),© and (d). I simply assume all factories would prefer to never see me in a professional way (or more). As a later manufacturer also, I can claim to have well validated this.

An opposite auditorial conclusion is unfortunately not always correct either. I once (unannounced) audited a factory for hygiene every month and was always told the designated Quality Assurance Manager was out checking raw material somewhere. The deputy seemed adequately knowledgeable, the process was low risk and the results were passable so I mentally classified the QAM as a possible auditor-phobe and moved on. Much later after my assistant substituted one day for me, I discovered that the QAM (related to the owner) was actually an illegral immigrant and believed I was a spy sent by the "authorities". :biggrin: He literally locked himself in his personal “closet” during the audit. I never met him. Still not sure what the (missed) limit for QAMs should be ? One? Infinity?

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


GMO

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 12:27 PM

Fair enough, I normally let the auditor start chatting if they want. I'm not the chattiest person in the world and I'm one of the few auditees I've ever seen who can let there be silence but no, I don't go overboard. It just makes the audit go more pleasantly, it wasn't some kind of strategy I'd deliberately employed, it was just one I'd noticed in myself that day. All he got was an M&S sandwich for lunch lol!

Anyhoo. When I'm on the other side with supplier audits, I see no harm in people being pleasant. If they were putting their arms around me like I was their best buddy then fair enough...



D-D

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 07:24 AM

Auditors are my best friends. We had a huge amount of work to do so whenever a customer auditor came along I would be showing them around and saying things like, "Come and look a this, write this down, can you believe we do that?!" etc. It was the easiest way of getting things moving, money spent and improvements sorted.

(I didn't work like this with the certification auditor by the way...). :whistle:






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