From September until November 2011, Cgcre carried out a satisfaction survey with clients of accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB). The survey was sent to a database of 22,122 clients (informed by the CABs themselves). The response to the questionnaire was through internet, using the Quest Manager software. From the total of clients who received the questionnaire, 1,277 answered it, conferring to the survey a sample error of 2.74%. The confidentiality of the survey was kept, as the software does not allow access to the name of the respondents, only to the answers.
The questionnaire was included open and closed questions. The majority of clients were from companies that supply the internal market, mainly in the Southeast region of Brazil in the areas of civil construction, services, vehicles and electronics. Regarding the general satisfaction with the services provided by CABs, technical expertise/ competence of the CAB´s team, the customer service and the clarity with which the information are provided have received a better grade (Figure 1).
Figure 1 – Average grade of general satisfaction with the services provided by CABs
In regard to the benefits of using the service of a CAB, the respondents highlighted that it makes the access to internal and external markets easy, besides increasing sales. In the survey, it was also asked if any representative of a conformity assessment body has behaved dishonestly or coercively, and the responses were that in 94% of the cases this has not happened. The survey also revealed that 20% of the respondents use services of conformity assessment bodies not accredited by Cgcre, most laboratories, due to the following main reasons: market does not require accredited bodies, nonexistence of accredited bodies and cost.
Accredited bodies are associated by their competence, reliability of results and market credibility, while non-accredited bodies are associated with a lower cost. It is interesting to observe that the proximity and the physical access are not determining factors and are virtually equal for both. In regard to the main factors that are considered on choosing a conformity assessment body, the following were mentioned: service quality/ technical expertise, price and value of body´s mark, but the location is more important in the case of inspection bodies. On choosing a CAB, it is interesting to note that suggestion from others is preponderant. Regarding Cgcre´s accreditation subsite, 54% of the respondents has never accessed it and those who visited it looked mostly for information about CAB´s scope and accreditation programs.
IAF has carried out a similar survey, but only for the clients of product certification bodies and quality and environmental management system certification bodies. This survey was launched in 56 economies at IAF General Assembly in Shanghai in November 2010. The survey has collected data during a year and received responses from 41 economies with a total of 4191 respondents. The majority of them from the following economies: Czech Republic, Brazil, Swiss, India, Portugal, Finland, Italy, Japan and USA.
Among IAF questions, it was asked the reason the client has chosen the certification. 47% of the respondents stated that the main driver for seeking certification was to improve internal business operations and processes. 32% reported that it was a customer requirement and 13% stated that it was to satisfy regulatory requirements. These answers differed from Cgcre´s survey, where the access to internal and external market and the increase on sales were the main reasons to seek certification. On the other hand, the majority of respondents of IAF´s survey stated that their certified status did not change its sales volume, although, on the point of view of the respondents, 81% agreed that certification is important to their clients.
IAF´s survey has also questioned the competence of the certification team and the majority of respondents rated the teams as highly competent. This answer has corroborated Cgcre´s survey, where the respondents reported that accredited bodies are noted by the competence, giving the best note to this question.
Another question of IAF´s survey regarded the use of services from accredited certification bodies or non-accredited certification bodies. The majority of respondents (91%) reported that they used the services of an accredited certification body, while only 4% use a non-accredited body. 72% of respondents also stated that it was essential or very important that the certification body was covered by accreditation. The percentage of use of non-accredited bodies is lower than it was stated on Cgcre´s survey, where 20% answered that they use non-accredited services. However, as the reasons mentioned on Cgcre´s survey refer to laboratories, this may have led to the difference in the two surveys.
The results of the end-user survey are important for Cgcre to implement actions to meet the mentioned criticisms and suggestions, whenever possible. Thus, the intention is to further improve the services rendered by Cgcre and accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies. This survey will be repeated every two years, contributing to the continuous improvement of Cgcre´s management system.