Customer quality engineer is one of the most important in the production facility, because it combines cooperation with the customer’s quality representatives and the organization’s team members.
When preparing to start working as a customer quality engineer, it’s worth learning about the main competences that affect work efficiency.
Foreign languages knowledge
This is not a discovery by any means. The specificity of the automotive industry focuses on cooperation with people most often located in different parts of the globe, starting from employees from engineering, purchasing and central functions, to customer representatives. English is compulsory for this position.
Of course, the vocabulary of the automotive industry is different from what we use in everyday speech. For this reason, it’s worth knowing the most common phrases and terms that can be found in everyday work. That is why I have prepared a free e-book “200 english terms and abbreviations for Automotive Engineer“.
More and more often, the knowledge of one foreign language is insufficient, therefore, in addition to English, it is worth considering learning another. In my case, for example, it’s Italian.
Did you know that even incorrectly used vocabulary in communicating with the client can lead to escalation? I am a living example of this. After one of the meetings with the client, the conversation did not go as I’d like to.
As a result, two minutes later I had a call from my supervisor. Ten minutes later the plant manager called me into the office and half an hour later I had an interesting conversation with the Quality Director from central department. Overall, it was not my best day at work.
The first basic rule You need to know – never argue with the client. Even if you are right, it will eventually turn against you (as you can see, I know something about it). The most constructive solution is to ask to stop the meeting explaining that we need to gather more information and a propose to set a new date for the meeting in order to continue it.
The area of diplomacy is also related to the selection of appropriate vocabulary. I have compiled the most important of them below.
“Part damaged outside the production facility”
The above wording is used to summarize 0-km complaints and warranty returns. It refers to a situation where we confirm a reported problem, but at the same time exclude the participation of the production plant. Remember to not use words that suggest the part has been damaged at your customer’s manufacturing facility. It’s like a red rag to a bull and be counterproductive to what we want to achieve.
n this term, the word “concept” is the most important. Why? Because it allows the organization to change its strategy when defining immediate or definitive action. The lack of this word closes the possibility of a flexible approach to its change during meetings with client.
„Initial condition lost”
This phrase is most often used in the case of analyzes from warranty field. Refers to a situation where the claimed part is incomplete (some sub-components are missing). The second scenario when this wording can be used is degradation of parts due to inadequate shipping / packaging conditions from dealer or customer.
The use of this term informs the client that the analysis may end without conclusions. Additionally, in the event of repeated occurrences, it is worth defining a common strategy with the client for systemic actions that eliminate the possibility of such a scenario.
IATF 16949 standard
Due to the cooperation with a customer representative, a customer quality engineer should know what IATF requirements affect his work. You will find them in the Process Card, which is prepared as part of the Quality Management System (QMS).
Customer Specific Requirements
Having identified IATF points for customer quality (external) area, we must remember that the vast majority of manufacturers have additional specific requirements (CSR – Customer Specific Requirements). They are published at www.iatfglobaloversight.org.
To ensure the use of current CSRs, it is worth setting up a subscription on the main page by entering your e-mail address. Thanks to this, each time of requirements updates, such information will be in provided to your inbox.
Problem solving techniques knowledge
This skill is useful not only in the workplace, but also in private life. If you work as a customer quality engineer, you know very well that one of your responsibilities is proper complaints management. The vast majority of clients will require an 8D approach for it.
Knowing how to “read” a technical drawing (2D) is a key skill for a customer quality engineer. It is useful for Special Characteristics identifying and measurements defining that has to be performed on parts dedicated for customer approval.
Often in such a situation, the term “drawing bubble” is used. It consists in dimensions marking with an appropriate outline. Additionally, the customer drawing contains information on traceability, recycling requirements, operator identification and drawing number.
Throughout most of the high school and college education, the ability to develop teamwork competences is very often neglected. This sometimes leads to a kind of dysfunction and a lot of stress for the person who has to cooperate with many people in the company and with the customer’s quality representative.
Teamwork is a critical competence that can of course be learned. It is related to such terms as empathy (i.e. the ability to empathize with other people’s emotions), negotiation (e.g. arranging the dates of meetings ) as well as diplomacy combined with respect.
Customer quality engineer – what else is worth knowing?
In addition to the abovementioned competences, it is also worth having knowledge of:
- core tools
- driving license
- work under time pressure
- MS Office knowledge
- optionally managing the work of residents in customer locations
As you can see, it is a very demanding position, but at the same time it gives a lot of satisfaction and the opportunity to learn and develop.