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Updated on August 21, 2015

Product Quality and Quality Management

The Sony Pledge of Quality declares our commitment: "Sony employees will always respect our customers' viewpoints in striving to deliver product quality and customer service that exceed their expectations." To this end, Sony promotes continuous, decisive efforts to enhance product quality and to reinforce its quality management system.

Sony's Quality Management System Framework

Sony configured its quality management system by defining quality management mechanisms across all processes, from product development, planning, design and manufacturing through sales and customer service. This has included defining the roles, responsibilities and authority of those responsible for product and customer service quality and establishing guidelines.
  • Framework of Sony's Quality Management System
Based on this quality management system, Sony is implementing measures on an ongoing basis to improve the quality of its products and services. Examples of such measures are shown below.

  • Has appointed the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety and has tasked this person with coordinating efforts to improve product and customer service quality and ensure timely responses to problems;

  • Has appointed Quality Officers within each business unit and has tasked them with spearheading product- and business-specific initiatives under the supervision of the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety and the senior executive of the relevant business unit;

  • Has appointed a Software Quality Officer in each business unit to promote the maintenance and improvement of overall software quality under the direction and supervision of the Quality Officer. This includes ensuring connectivity between the products supported;

  • Has appointed CS Officers to coordinate customer service departments in markets around the world where Sony products are sold and has tasked them with spearheading a network of global-level initiatives under the supervision of the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety and the individual in charge of the relevant regional headquarters;

  • Has created a framework for promoting business unit- and region-specific initiatives to ensure Sony's products comply with pertinent laws and regulations;

  • Has obtained certification under ISO 9001 for all sites manufacturing electronics products;

  • Has formulated mid-term and fiscal year targets for the quality of and customer service related to Sony products, as well as key quality-related indicators for business plans, with the aim of fulfilling the Sony Pledge of Quality. Business units and regional headquarters subsequently devised their own fiscal year quality and customer service targets and business plans, in line with which they continue to promote quality improvement initiatives;

  • Has held Quality and Customer Service Strategy Meetings, attended by top management, which function as the ultimate decision-making authority for quality and customer services in the Electronics business, to deliberate and decide on policy, strategies and targets related to product quality and customer service, as well as key measures;

  • Has held regular Quality Officer Meetings and Software Quality Officer Meetings, attended by, respectively, business unit Quality Officers and business unit Software Quality Officers,┬áto evaluate the progress of quality-oriented business plans, promote initiatives aimed at achieving targets, and debate specific activities and responses to quality-related issues and common challenges.

  • Has held Quality CS Officer Meetings, attended by business unit Quality Officers and regional CS Officers, to evaluate the progress of quality and customer service-oriented business plans and promote initiatives aimed at achieving targets, and to share information on customer service and product quality activities and common challenges, thereby contributing to global efforts to improve product quality and customer service;

  • Has formulated and administers Sony Group quality standards applicable to Sony's electronics products and related customer services, which focus on such criteria as product safety and performance, labeling and customer services. These standards are updated continuously to reflect technological advances, changes in applicable legal and regulatory requirements, and social changes, aiming to ensure Sony's ability to deliver quality and services that exceed the expectations of customers;

  • Has strengthened rules worldwide since 2006 to ensure prompt reporting to the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety, when Sony receives information about an incident involving a Sony product that affects customer safety or has the potential to do so. Based on these reports, the Corporate Executive in charge of Product Quality and Safety provides the necessary follow-up and instructs the relevant divisions to investigate the incidents and respond appropriately to the customer. In 2007, Sony applied the same system to possible software vulnerabilities in products, and ensures full implementation of the system.

Responding to the Customer

Sony makes active use of customer feedback to improve its products and customer services. Opinions, reports of malfunctions after purchase, questions regarding use and other feedback received through Customer Information Centers are evaluated promptly and accurately and disseminated to the planning and design groups so that improvements in product quality can be made in a timely fashion, thus contributing to efforts to enhance product power.

For example, in various regions of the world, Sony has created a series of customer support websites designed for mobile phone screens in response to requests for access to customer service from mobile phones, the popularity of which has grown markedly in recent years. In the U.S. market, Sony has released a dedicated customer support app for smart phones, and made it easier for customers to quickly access the information they need on a customer service website, including user manuals for products they own and answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Utilizing Customer Feedback

Quality Hotline

It is vital to detect product quality-related problems as early as possible. To that end, Sony established the Quality Hotline in 2003 to gather product quality-related information, including reports of problems, as well as opinions from Sony Group employees. Employees can send messages regarding such matters as issues that are too difficult to handle at their workplace and problems concerning the quality of Sony products and/or customer services from the customer's perspective, to the Quality Hotline's in-house website. Upon investigating a problem to ascertain the veracity of the information received, the Quality Hotline proposes and introduces measures to prevent previous problems from recurring and precluding potential new problems.

The Quality Hotline is closely linked to the Sony Pledge of Quality, which states that "Sony employees will always respect our customers' viewpoints in striving to deliver product quality and customer service that exceed their expectations." As of March 2015, Sony had received more than 1,680 reports since the establishment of the Quality Hotline. The diverse range of information received has included proposals to make products and manuals more user-friendly, and has led to more than 1,072 improvements.

As these initiatives indicate, Sony is wholeheartedly committed to improving product and service quality from the customer's perspective with the aim of maintaining and enhancing customers' satisfaction, reliability and trust.

Breakdown of Quality Improvements to Date

Market Quality Improvements

Sony has established dedicated quality management organizations in each of its business areas that are responsible for improving quality for pertinent products in each market.

At Sony's head office, information related to quality issues arising in the marketplace is gathered in a timely manner from a broad range of sources in Japan and overseas and reported weekly to head office quality management and technical specialists under an information-sharing system. Based on the reported information, Sony ascertains whether or not issues in the marketplace have been addressed appropriately. As well as ensuring that such issues are thoroughly addressed, by promoting measures to prevent recurrence and proactive measures in relation to quality issues, Sony is accelerating its quality improvement performance.

Improving the Quality, Safety and Long-Term Reliability of Products

Improving the Quality of Products
Sony pursues design-, manufacturing- and parts-related initiatives aimed at improving product quality.

Design-related quality initiatives
In the initial stages of the design process, the individual in charge of a particular business group verifies new technologies and new parts and, from a user's perspective, determines how a product is to be used. At the conclusion of the design process, the individual in charge confirms the degree to which the intended level of product quality, reliability and usability has been realized.

In addition, to ensure our ability to provide customers with products of a quality worthy of the Sony brand, we required OEM/ODM companies and parts suppliers to comply with Group-wide quality standards. Compliance with these standards is also tested at the end of the design process.

Such approaches prevent the occurrence of problems pertaining to new technologies and new product parts, as well as ensure product designs that incorporate consideration for user convenience.

Manufacturing-related quality initiatives
In its effort not to receive, manufacture or ship anything with quality-related problems, Sony adheres to a policy of workmanship at all of its manufacturing sites that ensures customers can use Sony products with confidence. Initiatives include setting important targets at each site and implementing Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) processes, thereby facilitating the achievement of such targets and the continuous improvement of product quality. Sony has also established standard product quality rules to ensure Sony products manufactured by OEM/ODM companies are of the same high quality as those manufactured at Sony production sites.

Parts-related quality initiatives
Recognizing the importance of parts and determined to manufacture products built for long-term use, Sony carefully selects key parts independently for each of its major product categories and is pursuing focused efforts aimed at increasing the reliability of the parts it uses through cooperation with relevant departments and Sony's headquarters.

Improving Product Safety
Ensuring the safety of the customers who use Sony products is one of the highest priorities for the Sony Group. Accordingly, at every stage of its business activities, including product development, planning, design, production, marketing, and after-sales service, Sony takes steps to comply with safety standards based on laws and regulations while constantly striving to surpass those standards in order to maintain the safety of its products. As part of these efforts, Sony appoints managers in charge of product safety assessment from a medical perspective. When developing products employing new technologies, Sony also seeks advice on product safety from a medical perspective from outside experts, which it then incorporates into product development, design and engineering. When deemed necessary, Sony also conducts evaluation tests to assess safety with the assistance of a specialized organization.

In addition, Sony strives to ensure that the safety-related explanations and information it provides to customers are accurate, easy to understand, and clearly presented. If a safety-related problem involving a Sony product is reported, the Sony Group immediately collects information and examines the facts, and then takes the steps necessary to rectify the problem.

Improving the Long-Term Reliability of Products
The Quality Reliability Lab continues to enhance Sony's product reliability, thereby ensuring Sony's ability to deliver safe, durable and reliable products to customers.
Sony has assigned specialists to work full time on improving technologies essential to product reliability and continues working to ensure the long-term reliability of its products by developing elemental technologies for preventing the deterioration, wear and corrosion of materials and parts, as well as technologies necessary to ensure the reliability of new technologies and products and to evaluate such technologies and products.

The reliability and evaluation techniques, and the information obtained through these activities, are openly accessible and available to all Sony employees via training sessions, seminars, and websites, and are utilized to improve design and parts selection processes. Sony also presents some of its own knowledge on evaluation techniques at academic meetings and industry conferences and gatherings, in its efforts to contribute to the industry.

Efforts to Eliminate Software Vulnerability

Increases in the digitization and networkability of electronics products have heightened the danger of, among others, personal information leaks and the destruction of data. As a consequence, eliminating the vulnerability of software in Sony products has become a critical issue.

Sony has a function for collecting security risk-related information from outside experts, researchers and other individuals. Sony has created an internal software vulnerability team comprising individuals assigned to each business group who are responsible for software vulnerability issues and a contact point for receiving information from outside the company. Based on the information received, the team - led by these individuals - assesses the impact of risk on customers from a software vulnerability perspective and implements appropriate measures.

To ensure its ability to deliver products that customers can use with confidence, Sony has also established internal guidelines pertaining to software vulnerability and continues to implement employee training programs. Additionally, in 2009 Sony introduced a mechanism that detects software vulnerability during security inspections conducted prior to product shipment. Sony is also working to further fortify its efforts to eliminate software vulnerability by developing a system that will ensure the security of products over their entire life cycle from planning to after-sales services.

Responses to Quality Issues

Sony recognizes that ensuring its customers' satisfaction, reliability and trust is one of its most important management tasks and strives to prevent quality-related problems through the systems and efforts described above.

Sony responds swiftly in the event of a quality-related issue, with local operations, the business unit in charge and Sony's headquarters in Japan working together to investigate facts and take appropriate action on a global scale. When such an issue arises, Sony also seeks to address the concerns of customers, following a process common to all Sony products: conducting various inspections, determining the content and timing of public announcements, and responding to market concerns. This process starts with the gathering of information from Customer Service Centers worldwide and collaboration with concerned local parties to ensure an accurate grasp of the issue. Based on information collected, Sony then works to determine the correct response by identifying the cause of the issue, implementing countermeasures and promptly verifying the effectiveness thereof, and reviewing the issue from the customer's perspective. Sony also cooperates with CS Officers at sites in each region to ensure the same level of service is provided to customers the world over.

With regard to methods and media for issuing public announcements of product quality-related issues, Sony examines the effectiveness of the various means at its disposal, including the Internet, e-mail or other electronic media, as well as direct mail, newspaper advertisements or other conventional media.
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