Although the number of firms seeking the ISO 9000 certification in both the global and Lebanese market is constantly on the rise, the scarcity of international studies appraising the impact of the ISO 9000 certification upon customer satisfaction and the lack of such studies (only one) in the Lebanese market are disconcerting.
Consequently, this study aspires toward bridging the gap between what ISO 9000-certified firms in the industrial packaging Lebanese market hope to accomplish with their customers through their certification and where reality stands when considering the outlook of those same customers when it comes to the ISO 9000 certification of their suppliers.
In order to achieve this end, a review of the literature was carried out to elucidate what the ISO 9000 certification calls for and how it is theoretically linked to customer satisfaction. After that, an exploratory qualitative study was performed. To this end, two separate open-ended questionnaires were designed, one targeting the suppliers and the other their customers.
From the perspective of the ISO 9000-certified supplying firms, the application of the ISO 9000 standards has definitely led to the enhancement of their customers’ expectations and trust towards them in addition to the improvement in their perceived performance, corporate image, and both perceived product and service quality. They also judge that their customers are willing to pay a slightly higher price without having it affect customer satisfaction. Moreover, the majority of the interviewed managers believe that the more their customers know about ISO 9000, the stronger will the variables listed above will end up being.
As to the responses of the purchasing managers of the customer firms, they can generally be divided into two distinct categories: the responses of those Purchasing Managers working for ISO 9000-certified organizations, on the one hand, and the responses of those managers employed in non-certified companies, on the other. The first category of managers concurred that the ISO 9000 certification of their suppliers has resulted in the boosting of their expectations of those suppliers and their trust in them and in their improved perception of the performance of those suppliers, of their image and of the quality of their products and services. Most of those managers have affirmed that they are not willing to pay a price premium to obtain the products and services of ISO 9000-certified suppliers. It is also evident from their replies that their expertise in ISO 9000 enables them to view their suppliers from a different and positive angle and to appreciate the difference the application of the ISO 9000 standards have made on their professionalism. As to the Purchasing Managers coming from non-certified firms, they had an equal quasi-consensus whenever they appraised the outcomes of the ISO 9000 certification of their suppliers. They all agreed that this certification has no bearing upon how much th