The service industry is a key driver of economic growth, being, for most countries, the biggest employer. Consumers are the backbone of services, so taking their needs into account when it comes to standards for the sector is essential. The international guide for standards developers has just been updated.
Virtually every product today has a service component to it and virtually every industry is touched by services. From health to holidays, and bakeries to builders, good quality service results in greater consumer confidence and better business outcomes, which is why, increasingly, International Standards are being employed. Having consumers at the heart of these standards, with their various needs and expectations taken into account, is necessary to make them relevant and useful.
ISO/IEC Guide 76, Development of service standards – Recommendations for addressing consumer issues, helps standards developers consider all the needs of consumers in standards for the service sector. It has just been updated, featuring new information such as consumer principles based on Consumer International’s eight fundamental consumer rights.
Arnold Pindar, Co-Convenor of the working group that developed the guide, said that while many codes of practice exist in many industries within the service sector, they aren’t always developed from the consumer viewpoint.
“Consumer services are a major contributor to the global market. Hence, it is essential that consumer interests are at the heart of standards developed for services. ISO/IEC Guide 76 helps standardizers to consider the whole spectrum of consumers – and their needs – such as children, persons with disabilities, those from different ethnic and cultural heritages and those in vulnerable situations due to personal circumstances, by identifying core consumer principles,” he said.
“It also provides a common set of elements that apply to all types of service provision across countries where there may be variations in legislation related to consumer protection, yet work with all statutory or regulatory requirements.”
ISO/IEC Guide 76 was developed by ISO’s Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) in collaboration with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). COPOLCO is comprised of representatives from over 120 countries and liaises with a number of international organizations including Consumers International. The guide can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.