- Social Initiatives
- Promoting Supply Chain CSR
- Quality / Customer Satisfaction
- Communication with Shareholders and Investors
- For Local Communities
- Efforts Related to Human Rights
- Human Resource Development / Personnel System
- Diversity Management
- Activities to Support Work-Life Balance
- Promoting Occupational Safety and Health
Quality / Customer Satisfaction
Ensuring Quality and Safety
|FY2020 Objectives||FY2020 Achievements||Self-Evaluation|
|Priority Objectives for Fiscal 2021||
Basic Stance and Vision on Quality
To gain customer trust and improve customer satisfaction, based on its Quality Philosophy and Quality Slogan, the Sharp Group constantly strives to respond to customer needs and demands by providing products and services that are safe, high quality, reliable, and environmentally friendly.
Quality Assurance System
Under the executive managing officer in charge of quality in the Sharp Group, the Quality and Environmental Promotion Office leads governance and supports related efforts, and the Group has a system in place for each business unit and affiliate to autonomously conduct its business.
Sharp’s Quality Assurance System
Quality Management System
To enable it to conduct a variety of quality assurance activities in all stages of the manufacturing cycle, including planning, design, procurement, production, assessment, and after-sales, the Sharp Group established the Sharp Corporation Standard based on the ISO 9001 international quality management standard. Stipulating systems and methods necessary for quality assurance, the Sharp Corporation Standard is strictly adhered to by all Sharp sites in Japan and other countries, and by consolidated subsidiaries carrying out design, production, and sales.
Through ongoing revision and implementation of the standard, all employees—in product planning, design, production, sales, and after-sales service—know exactly the level of quality they should be guaranteeing customers in Sharp’s continuous efforts to improve quality.
In line with the Quality Policy stipulated in Sharp Corporation’s company rules (Quality Assurance Basic Rules), the Sharp Group makes and implements quality plans aimed at achieving the quality targets it has set.
Provide high quality and attractive products that customers can continuously use them with safety and satisfactory.
- Observe laws and regulations and place top priority on safety and reliability.
- Pursue convenience and comfort from usability.
- Squarely face with voice of the customer and reflect it in products
Efforts to Improve Quality
The Sharp Group established the Quality and Environmental Engineering Committee as a way to advance quality and environmental technologies. The committee decides policies and sets fiscal-year targets related to quality and environmental issues arising in new products, and leads company-wide research and improvement efforts among business units in order to assure quality in new technology areas such as the 8K+5G ecosystem, AIoT*1, and robotics, as well as in face mask production. The committee is made up of heads of business units and subsidiaries and is chaired by the Sharp executive managing officer in charge of quality.
Within the Quality and Environmental Engineering Committee are Expert Subcommittees made up of experts from the various business units. These Expert Subcommittees work towards prompt solutions to issues that concern multiple business units or the entire company.
- *1 AIoT is a word coined by Sharp, combining the words AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of things). AIoT is a vision of how products and services will connect to artificial intelligence via the cloud and become a people-oriented existence. AIoT is a registered trademark of Sharp.
- *2 Subsidiaries of Sharp business unit status
Fostering Quality Experts
Fostering Quality Experts
Based on its Quality Philosophy, Sharp works to foster quality thinking and boost quality-related techniques by carrying out systematic quality-related education with the aim of making products that customers can use with safety and peace of mind.
In particular, the company is stepping up basic training through programs that allow young employees (in their first four years with the company) to gradually acquire quality-related techniques.
Training takes a number of forms depending on the goals of participants. Besides an e-learning program and videoconference classes that help maximize learning efficiency, there are group training courses to improve practical skills, which are carried out at various company factories. In fiscal 2020, there were 35 courses in quality training, with a total of 8,873 participants
Fiscal 2020 Training Courses and Number of Participants
|Training form||No. of courses||No. of participants|
Ensuring Product Safety
Sharp Voluntary Product Safety Action Policy
Keenly aware that product safety assurance is the most important aspect of a company’s business and one of its social responsibilities, Sharp strives to provide customers with safety and peace of mind. It does this by prioritizing the safety of the products it manufactures and sells and by making safety-related information public. To this end, the company has formulated voluntary action guidelines on product safety in efforts to earn an even higher level of trust from society.
Efforts to Ensure Product Safety
Sharp strives to ensure its products are safe and to constantly raise levels of safety. Besides abiding by laws and regulations of countries and obtaining safety certifications through activities such as factory audits by third parties, the company utilizes its own risk-assessment-based safety standards. To ensure complete and high levels of safety even in cases where unforeseen defects arise, these in-house safety standards stipulate items like flame-retardant construction and testing for abnormal conditions. These standards are revised as needed and are taught to all relevant employees in design, quality, and other divisions so that they are understood and followed thoroughly.
Since fiscal 2020, Sharp has been using new e-learning material developed exclusively for the company to expand the practice of risk assessment related to product safety. Sharp is enhancing its internal training with this material, hoping that it will help employees embrace the concept of risk assessment more deeply and motivate them to develop safer products.
Sharp will continue to step up efforts to promptly respond to social changes and legal revisions regarding product safety so that customers can use Sharp products with peace of mind.
Information Disclosure and Response When Problems Occur
If an accident caused by a Sharp product occurs on the market, the company immediately gathers information on the accident and analyzes it to determine the cause. If it is determined that there is a risk of harm or damage to the customer, information is promptly disclosed via media such as newspapers and the Sharp website, and all appropriate measures are taken to ensure the safety of customers.
For major product-related accidents stipulated in the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Sharp website has a list of information on major product-related accidents for which the cause is thought to be the product itself. There are 11 such cases.*1
- *1 Number in fiscal 2020 (as of March 31, 2021).
Flow for dealing with product-related accidents
- *2 BRM: business risk management
Product Security Policy and Efforts
Products connected to networks are exposed to growing risks as information technology advances and the value of information they handle increases. They are at a risk of cyber-attack taking advantage of their vulnerabilities, which can result in information leakage or a hijacking of the device being hacked. Even security measures considered adequate in the past are quickly becoming compromised, leading to a growing worldwide urgency to improve legislation related to product security.
Such a situation has been prompting Sharp to act to ensure that customers can use its products without worries. We have established teams and reporting lines dedicated to enhancing product security, along with the rules to be followed at the stages of planning, developing, operating, and maintaining products. We also gather vulnerability information and share it internally, as well as train employees thoroughly, to ensure the quality of our product security continuously.
We are expecting a future in which standalone systems are interconnected with one another, perhaps creating added vulnerabilities. To prepare for such a future, we have adopted security by design, a concept that intends to build in security from early stages before design. This approach to product development is shared throughout the organization.
- Related information:
Making Easier-to-Use Products
Practicing User-Centered Design
Sharp practices user-centered design (UCD) in order to provide products that customers find easier to use.
UCD is a concept—as outlined in the international ISO 9241-210 standard—to provide products and services that satisfy customers by seeing things from their perspective, understanding their needs, and reflecting them in product design. Sharp has its own UCD Basic Policy and the Eight Principles of UCD based on this concept and shares them across the Sharp Group. Sharp investigates customers’ latent dissatisfaction and needs as part of its product development process and reflects those findings in the specifications and design of its products. By repeatedly going through evaluations and improvements, Sharp is bringing forth products and services that customers find easy to use and attractive.
Investigating Customers’ Dissatisfaction and Needs and Reflecting Them in Product Design
In user-centered design (UCD), Sharp collects customer feedback on ease of use through various methods and applies it to product design.
Through usability tests (observing how people actually use Sharp products), questionnaires, interviews, and opinions gathered from customers during Customer Assistance Center phone calls and repair visits, anonymous information from customers is compiled and shared among Sharp development personnel, who put it to use in new product design.
For in-person information gathering such as usability tests, strict measures are taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. If necessary, these activities are carried out online using web conferencing systems.
Comments from Participants in Usability Tests
- Thanks to opinions from customers, we were able to pick up things we didn’t notice from our own vantage point. It was fortunate that we did a test at the spec discovery stage. (Sharp product planning staff member)
- Even with the restrictions imposed by working remotely, we were able to carry out testing smoothly. (Sharp staff member in his 30s)
Efforts in Universal Design
In line with the aforementioned UCD Basic Policy, Sharp also takes into consideration universal design (UD). Universal design is a philosophy for building products, information, and environments so that they can be used by many more customers—regardless of things like nationality, age, gender, or disability. Sharp strives to develop products and services that can be used comfortably by as many people as possible by conducting UD evaluations and surveys of mainly home appliances and digital multifunction printers (MFPs).
As of June 2021, 18 models of Sharp home appliance products support the UD considerations listed on the website of the Association for Electric Home Appliances in Japan.
To continue the aforementioned activities company-wide, Sharp works to foster human resources through training. Major education activities include introduction to universal design (e-learning) to impart the understanding and acquisition of basic UD knowledge, UD experience learning, in which employees see firsthand what it’s like to be physically disabled so that they can know how to make products more accessible, and a usability training system for specialized education.
UD experience learning is usually conducted in person in a group, but due to Covid-19, a web conferencing system was utilized for online classes in which participants used smartphone apps for the learning material.
Efforts to Ensure Accessibility
Accessibility is the concept of making products and services so that they can easily be used by people who are in some way limited in their physical functions; for example, senior citizens and the physically disabled. Under U.S. federal law*1, federal agencies purchasing equipment and services are obligated to choose those that are accessible to everyone, including the physically disabled. For Sharp digital MFPs and other products, assessment results of accessibility standards stipulated by federal law are compiled on a product evaluation sheet (VPAT*2), which is disclosed on the website of Sharp Electronics Corporation (SEC), Sharp’s U.S. sales company.
- *1 Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
- *2 VPAT: Voluntary Product Accessibility Template. A table containing information regarding how a particular product or service conforms with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.
Sharp Corporation Wins Overall Customer Satisfaction Top Prize, 2021 IID Awards (Japan)
Sharp’s Brain Series electronic dictionary was given the Overall Customer Satisfaction Top Prize in the 2021 IID Awards*3 in Japan. This was the 10th year in a row for Sharp to win this award. Sharp also won top prizes in all the evaluation categories: operability, search function, easy-to-view screen, readability, audio quality, portability, design, durability, and value for money.
Sharp has been repeating the cycle of obtaining feedback from users and retailers and improving the product’s usability. We will continue our product development and improvement efforts to satisfy an even broader user base.
- *3 Resemom, an education information website run by IID, Inc., conducted on online survey of parents of junior and senior high school students who own an electronic dictionary.
Enhancing Customer Satisfaction
|Fiscal 2020 Objectives||Fiscal 2020 Achievements||Self-Evaluation|
|Priority Objectives for Fiscal 2021||
Basic Stance on Customer Satisfaction
< Providing Products and Services That Offer Peace of Mind and Satisfaction >
Sharp always thinks from the customer’s point of view and, as a rule, develops and provides products and services with the customer in mind. To ensure that customers can continue to use Sharp products for many years with peace of mind, Sharp strives to improve its products and its sales and after-sales services by reflecting the opinions of customers.
Sharp will continue to pursue customer satisfaction (CS) so that customers choose Sharp now, next time, and every time.
- Related information:
After-Sales Service System
Sharp has an after-sales service system that can handle all kinds of customer inquiries, whether it’s instructing them how to use products or repairing products that are not working properly.
Centered on Sharp Corporation’s Customer Assistance Center and after-sales service departments at Sharp sales companies, the entire Sharp Group worldwide collaborates to provide high-quality, fast, accurate, and friendly service that truly satisfies customers.
Repair and Servicing System (in Japan)
Repair of Sharp products in Japan is carried out by Sharp Marketing Japan Corporation, Customer Service Company. The entire company works together with a user-oriented mindset to satisfy customers and realize its slogan: “Looking customer smile is my pleasure.” To this end, service engineers, who work out of more than 90 service bases*1 all over Japan and are familiar with local customers, provide repair service that truly satisfies customers.
Service inquiries are accepted every day of the year*2. The company puts special effort into prompt response to problems with home appliances that are indispensable to daily life, such as washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners.
- *1 As of June 2021.
- *2 Business days vary from region to region.
After-Sales Service Puts a Smile on Customers’ Faces (in Japan)
Change Customer Feelings from Dissatisfaction and Worry to Joy and Gratitude
As a service engineer at Sharp Marketing Japan Corporation, Customer Service Company, I constantly strive to better myself and boost customer satisfaction (CS) awareness by sharing opinions with other service engineers and undergoing technical training. With the goal of hearing customers say that Sharp products are great and that they’ll purchase Sharp again, we are always conscious of providing prompt and meticulous service that eases the minds of those requesting repairs, listening closely to what they say, detailing clearly the repair performed, and explaining how to use Sharp products.
Customers are naturally wary of repair visits amidst the current pandemic, but service engineers take all the necessary precautions; obvious ones such as wearing a mask and disinfecting with alcohol-based sanitizers, but also extra-careful measures that put customers at ease such as wearing disposable gloves when repairing kitchen appliances like refrigerators and microwave ovens. In the questionnaire following repair completion, some customers have expressed their gratitude for taking such thorough measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Encouraged by such comments from customers, I will continue to boost my CS awareness and improve technical skills so that customers who were dissatisfied and nervous about repair visits end up feeling happy and grateful.
Customer Questionnaire (in Japan)
In Japan, all customers who are visited by service engineers are asked to answer a questionnaire covering the entire service process, from initial inquiry and appointment to product repair. More than 140,000 customer opinions are received annually via this questionnaire.
To improve convenience for customers and to speed up response, the questionnaire has also been available on the Sharp website since fiscal 2017. Starting in fiscal 2021, the survey will be completely web-based.
Sharp will continue to pass on customers’ valuable opinions to relevant company departments, closely analyze problems, and use the information gathered to improve service mechanisms and manufacturing.
Percentage of Customers Giving High Marks to Service Personnel (postcard and online surveys)
Manufacturing That Reflects Customer Opinions (in Japan)
- Customer Opinions Led to a Better Remote Controller -
Aiming for Customer-Oriented Services
< Customer Assistance Center >
Through the Customer Assistance Center, which responds to a wide range of customer inquiries concerning products, Sharp is constantly striving to be customer-oriented in its response. To this end, the center meets periodically with product development departments to give them feedback in the form of customer inquiries, which leads to the development of improved and new products.
We are enhancing the troubleshooting information available on the website to help customers solve their problems on their own any time they need to.
Efforts such as these have resulted in a decreasing number of inquiries from customers by phone and email.
By continuing to improve the convenience of customers inquiries, Sharp is striving to respond to diversifying needs and achieve its goal of always serving in a customer-oriented manner.
Number of Calls Received from Customers in Japan
< Reliable Operation of Customer Support >
Factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, along with more frequent natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, are making it increasingly challenging to deliver customer support services with consistent reliability.
Our business continuity plan (BCP) ensures the continued operation of our customer support services even in emergency situations. Our support offices are distributed across multiple locations and are connected through a system that makes them ready to complement one another.
< Improving Response to Customers >
As the face of Sharp, customer consultants study products and learn how to interact properly with customers before they start their jobs.
Even after they have begun their jobs, consultants periodically undergo checks for the quality of their customer interactions and study for upgraded qualifications. These are part of Sharp efforts to maintain and improve person-to-person dealings with customers.
|Customer consultants before starting their jobs||Acquire basics in manners, product knowledge, and consumer-related laws and regulations|
|Test ability to serve as customer consultants|
|Customer consultants after starting their jobs||Undergo periodic customer interaction checks|
|Supervisors||Ensure person is fit to be a supervisor|
|Undergo periodic customer interaction checks|
|Acquire skills as a backup consultant|
Increasing Service Capabilities (in Asia)
Reducing the Hassle of Processing Service Parts Orders
In response to the dramatic increase in the volume of orders for service parts (approx. 60% increase in quantities*, 50% increase in ordered items*), Sharp is using digital transformation (DX) to digitalize work and strengthening internal control through the introduction of check functions. With increasing man-hours needed to process customer orders, we have made receiving orders more convenient by providing a web interface and by visualizing the available parts in stock using a database. By introducing check functions for the order-taking process, we have eliminated missed orders, made possible checking of hard-to-procure parts, and reduced obstacles of long delivery times. We are currently developing new additions that will improve usability of the web interface as part of ongoing efforts to improve customer satisfaction.
|Fiscal 2018||Fiscal 2019||Fiscal 2020|
|No. of orders||21,260||31,889||33,243|
|Types of parts in stock||4,621||5,857||6,766|
- * No. of orders: Number of order lines each fiscal year
Types of parts in stocks: At end of each fiscal year
Managing After-Sales Service Activities by distributors (Middle East and Africa)
In the Middle East and Africa region, local Sharp distributors provide the after-sales service to customers. To give customers there the same level of Sharp-brand customer satisfaction expected in Japan, sales company Sharp Middle East FZE (SMEF) provides information that boosts the level of customer satisfaction provided by distributors. For example, it regularly publishes the CS Newsletter for distributors, thoroughly implements customer satisfaction control indices, sends notifications of online training that improves service techniques, and shares case studies on product repairs.
|1||Clarify definition of KPI||CS KPI Announcement|
|2||Assess local dealers||TRAINING Achievement on overall|
|3||Foster human resources||E-Academy Training Schedule|
|4||Provide product information||New/Discon Models Information|
|5||Share information||New rules / New Scheme / Tips|
After-Sales Service in the Pandemic
Sales and manufacturing company P.T. Sharp Electronics Indonesia (SEID) has made rules for preventing the spread of Covid-19 so that it can provide after-sales service uninterrupted and so that customers can continue to use Sharp products with safety and peace of mind. During customer interaction at service branches and repair companies, temperatures are taken, and the wearing of gloves and face shields is strictly enforced. The thorough enforcement of these measures keeps the risk of virus transmission to a minimum and allows SEID to provide ongoing after-sales service.