In June 2016 Standards Australia (SA) delegates attended the ISO international workshop Global Services ISO standards as solutions which preceded ISO’s COPOLCO Meeting. Both events were held in Geneva.
ISO has a strong consumer focus and believes that integrating the view of the consumer is important in standards development because it offers a real-life perspective, helping to ensure that issues such as safety and quality are adequately addressed. In addition, it helps to ensure that products and services perform as expected and improves quality and reliability, choice and fair competition and suitability of products for vulnerable populations.[i]
COPOLCO is dedicated to promoting consumer participation in standards which advances the interests of consumers and suppliers in Australia and internationally through the development of standards or guides.
Standards Australia (SA) support to consumers is in line with ISO objectives for consumer involvement. For example SA supports consumers in the development of standards that are beneficial to the well being of consumers, supports consumer stakeholders participation and includes in its Forum program topics that are of particular interest to consumers.
SA provides a National Sector Manager responsible for stakeholder engagement and standards development work in the Consumer Products, Services and Safety Sector. SA also provides support for attendance at COPOLCO and managing the Australian COPOLCO mirror committee.
Global Services ISO standards as solutions Workshop
Moderated by Kevin McKinley, Acting ISO Secretary-General the Workshop was unusual in that, being held in conjunction with COPOLCO, there was greater representation from consumer organisations and NSB consumer representatives together with ISO TMB members, senior ISO personnel and stakeholders from the service sectors. The Workshop heard international speakers and panelists who came together to discuss the importance and challenges of service standards in the ISO flora.
The workshop served as an indicator on which way the international market was heading in the services area. Discussion included:
- Developing service standards in a different manner to technical standards;
- Difference between service sector stakeholders and those in technical sector;
- Measuring success of service standard and its acceptance in market place;
- Measuring performance and quality of a service;
- Need to standardise services language across international service sector;
- Engaging end users to ensure maximum usage of published standards in different cultural environments;
- Considering new business models ( e.g. Uber / Airbnb / eCommerce / self check-in);
- Reinforcing service economies by early standardisation intervention, and
- Maximising through standards the unique needs and characteristics of consumers with complex, often intangible, and changing services.
The involvement of end users at NSB level was seen as a significant issue as was the importance of engaging service providers which in some service industries (e.g. tourism, primary production and entertainment) include small and medium operators.
ISO has published over 700 service standards. During discussion it was stated that although committees developing service standards adequately covered the technical aspects some failed to cover the needs of end users. For example IT standards were said to be technically adequate but failed to cover privacy and ensuring the adequacy of information isolation.
38th Meeting of COPOLCO
The COPOLCO Plenary was opened by Kevin McKinley who said ISO believe that COPOLCO has ability to assist ISO to achieve ISO goals and the Workshop revealed leadership that consumers can play in the service sector.
The Plenary discussion included strategies and programs, raising the profile of consumer interests in the ISO system, revision of ISO/IEC Guide 76 Development of service standards — Recommendations for addressing consumer issues and reports from liaison organisations and regional initiatives (including IEC, Consumers International, OECD-Committee on Consumer Policy, DEVCO).
WG Coordinators (Key Areas, Consumer Protection in the Global Market Place, Product Safety, Consumer Priorities in Standardisation on Services, and Consumer Participation and Training) provided an up-date on current and new work.
WG work items included Instructions for use, sustainable cocoa, E-cigarettes, unit pricing, robotics, privacy, collaborative economy, consumer vulnerability, balanced representation on TCs, consumer participation funding, customer satisfaction, developing codes of conduct, complaints handling mechanisms, and external customer dispute resolution systems and environmental management systems.
A number of Australian initiatives and specific interests were progressed including strategy initiatives streamlining meeting and WG agendas. SA actively participates in the COPOLCO programme and opportunity was taken to bringing SA initiatives to the global level including highlighting the Young Leaders Program, SAs initiative on trampoline parks, new SA Video: Standards, helping us to be more informed consumers and SA’s innovative horizontal hazard guide, appropriated from the toy standard (HB 295.3.25-2008 (R2016)).
John Furbank Head of Delegation COPOLCO 2016
[i] Source: http://www.iso.org/iso/home/about/iso-and-the-consumer.htm
The workshop was organised jointly by the ISO Technical Management Board and ISO COPOLCO
This article was written by John Furbank for the International Standards Organisation.