How to be the third party calibration vendor of choice to your customers?

As a calibration software vendor to third party calibration labs, we had the opportunity to learn from and contribute to the success stories of a bunch of calibration labs across the globe. From our experience thus far, the successful ones have a few things in common which make them stand out amongst the competition.

Our customer success team in Metquay has managed to put together the following good practices which any commercial calibration lab could adopt to achieve growth and customer satisfaction.

All of them have an impressive quality system in place

For most of the calibration labs in the market, the quality system starts and ends with the quality manual. The quality manual is off course an important document that dictates the quality policy of a lab, however, that’s not all! The way you implement and practice the guidelines in your quality manual is what is going to differentiate you from your competitors.

Also, its most important to have your quality system aligned to your customer’s quality requirements.

Well, how do you make sure you meet those requirements from your customer? here are some quick tips

  1. Get yourself accredited to ISO 17025
  2. Gather and retain customer requirements from purchase orders, statement of work, etc. and make it available for your technicians ( a good calibration management software can make your life a lot easier here)
  3. Conduct periodic and regular internal surveillance audits
  4. Track non-compliances from internal/external audits and take necessary corrective actions ( most importantly maintain the records so that you could share it with your customers on demand)

They have a team of high-quality calibration professionals

The most crucial component of any quality management system is the people who practice it. It’s most important to have a high-quality team in place and to keep them motivated and skilled.

Set up a customer success strategy where your team is aware of the customer requirements as well as your quality process. At each step of their work, they should be able to ensure your lab’s quality policy and your customer quality requirements are aligned thoroughly.

Also, these tips would come handy while you showcase your team’s capability to your customer

  1. Maintain a competency matrix for employees
  2. Maintain training records
  3. Have a system in place to ensure regular upskilling of your calibration technicians
  4. Have a system for staffing, leave planning, work assignment, etc

They invested in comprehensive commercial calibration management software & makes the most out of it.

It’s important to have a comprehensive commercial calibration management software in place to manage your lab process. A good commercial calibration management software can help you deliver high-quality service in lesser turn around while saving costs.

Here are the most important features to look for while making an investment decision on a commercial calibration management software

  1. Flexible, Intuitive and scalable Calibration certificate preparation module
  2. Features to help you define your uncertainty formulae, pass/fail criteria, CMC budgets, etc.
  3. Customer self-service portals where customers could log in and download their certificates on demand
  4. Features to maintain and validate calibration procedures
  5. A robust and reliable asset management module
  6. Maintain traceability of Calibration standards to UUT and vice versa ( forward and backward traceability)
  7. Methods to validate the calibration data as and when the technician enters it
  8. Regular data backup routines

Read more about ISO 17025 calibration certificate requirements here

https://medium.com/@metquaycms/do-you-know-the-biggest-bottleneck-in-your-lab-process-is-calibration-certificate-preparation-f20cc86051a8

To understand in detail about the features to look for in a calibration management software read the following articles

https://medium.com/@metquaycms/are-you-an-accredited-commercial-calibration-testing-business-7805e436f631

https://medium.com/@metquaycms/5-points-to-consider-when-procuring-a-new-calibration-lab-management-solution-c6eda874cb7b

They follow a flexible pricing model

Needless to say, pricing is one of the primary criteria for a customer to choose a calibration vendor. However, pricing your services cheap to win customers is not a sustainable way to provide quality service. As we all know it takes money to maintain a great calibration facility, run your payroll, invest in the best quality calibration standards and software.

So the best way to stay competitive in today’s commercial calibration market without compromising on quality is to have a multi-tier pricing model.

Here are some possible ways to break down your service levels and to arrive at a multi-tier pricing model that a customer could choose based on their budget.

  1. Accredited Calibration & Non-Accredited Calibration
  2. Preventive Maintenance, Parts Replacement, Adjustment, etc.
  3. Reporting detail ( Basic Calibration Report, Detailed ISO 17025 Compliant Calibration Reports with Uncertainties, As Found & As Left Details etc )
  4. Raw Data Documentation
  5. Procedure Documentations ( not very common)
  6. Service Level Agreements ( Same day, 3-day, Normal — 7 days etc)
  7. Logistics ( Shipping & Handling )
  8. Onsite Calibrations ( provide Certificates & Calibration Stickers on the spot)
  9. Good Quality Calibration Labels with Calibration dates and due dates printed

They provide excellent customer service

As commercial calibration service is repeat business, it’s important to have your customers come back for recalibrations. It’s easy to retain a satisfied customer than to acquire a new one.

Here are some quick tips to maintain customer delight and to have a healthy working relationship with your customer

  1. Maintain calibration due dates of your customer’s equipment and alert them well in advance so that they could bring it back to your lab for recalibration. This would create a win-win situation where your customers could plan and reduce their downtime while you get a sustained business inflow.
  2. Provide a Customer self-service portal for downloading and maintain copies of calibration certificates
  3. Provide a detailed estimate of the cost involved well before the work is started. Transparency yields better customer satisfaction and trust.
  4. Expand your scope and keep yourself updated with the customer requirements and keep subcontracting to a minimum.
  5. Invoice promptly while complying with the customer requirements

Although this list is not exhaustive, we could safely say that these are the most common market differentiators for all of the labs we studied.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and feedback on this article on the discussion thread below. If you would like to know more about our offerings and products, send us an email at consulting@metquay.com or visit us at https://www.metquay.com

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