B2B: Customer satisfaction surveys

B2B: Customer satisfaction surveys

I have been writing about the Customer satisfaction survey regarding the end-user perspective, but how about the ITSM point of view?

Customer satisfactions survey in ITIL®

I like to think Customer satisfaction survey (later on “Css”) as an elementary part of ITIL’s Continual Service Improvement life cycle. Conducting Css’s on a regular basis is considered one of the key activities in Continual Service Improvement (later on “CSI”). Just like any other activity in CSI, also Css’s must be owned by the IT organization. The results of the surveys help IT organization to understand customer satisfaction.

IT Service Management needs all kind of data in order to understand the baseline: where do they stand at the moment? Without information about the current state of the service it’s completely useless to paint the sky with stars pretty much any service level targets or customer satisfaction levels.

One of the most essential things the IT Service Management must carry out is to verify that the customers’ needs are met – and that is where conducting regular Css’s play the key role.

One of the most essential things the IT Service Management must carry out is to verify that the customers’ needs are met – and that is where conducting regular Css’s play the key role.

Customer is always right, right?

Shortly: no. I know saying this is an easy way to stir up emotions, because there are lots of people who tend to think that customer is always right.

 

Customers are ordinary people – regardless who they are and whether the business model is B2B or B2C. Customers are humans and I prefer performing an In-Depth analysis of the Css results instead of just taking a look at the 1-2 key numbers available.

That is also a reason why using Css’s results as measuring the performance of the ITSM department should be carefully considered. In any case, Css’s results must not be the sole indicator when examining the ITSM activities.

That is also a reason why using Css’s results as measuring the performance of the ITSM department should be carefully considered. In any case, Css’s results must not be the sole indicator when examining the ITSM activities.

 

stockvault--businessman-drawing-a-circle-around-people-icons178079I recall a case where certain IT specialist teams were measured by the Css results – and what was even better their monetary bonuses were bound with the result numbers. While other teams performed very well over and over again, there was one team that was always putting in a sub standard performance, thus leading to the situation where they were always left without bonuses. That really seemed unfair from this team’s point of view.

 

Do you know why this one team was always underperforming? Why wasn’t anything done? Why wasn’t the team leader or some specialists changed?

The answer is: Because of the cultural issues.

 

While the other teams were working with people from Western hemisphere, this one “underperforming” team was working with Chinese customers.

 

China Business Review summarizes this:

 

Service 

Chinese buyers have extremely demanding service requirements on issues as diverse as lead time, availability after hours, and technical service. When dealing with Western companies, Chinese businesses feel that they are paying for top quality and expect technical issues to be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Companies that can demonstrate a track record of customer satisfaction in this area will have an advantage.

 

That was especially true in that case: while other teams were getting A’s or B+’s from their customers, this one team only got something like D or C+ at the best. And they never got any bonuses, even though when discussing at the dinner table, Chinese customers seemed to be satisfied with the service after all.

I admit, I haven’t spent my time searching for scientific articles about Chinese cultural behavior in relation to answering to Css’s, but according to my experience and what I’ve seen and heard, Chinese don’t necessarily give you very good Css numbers no matter how good you are. And yes, I’m aware that I’m generalizing now pretty heavily, but like I said, I’m writing from my own experience. Needless to say, this wasn’t written to rail against Chinese, not at all!

I wrote this to demonstrate why one should always take time to look beyond the results and check what really lies there behind the numbers.

I wrote this to demonstrate why one should always take time to look beyond the results and check what really lies there behind the numbers.

Css is everything?

I vaguely remember having read on opinion somewhere on the ITSM boards that one wouldn’t need other metrics than the Css. In my opinion that’s far from truth, because while Css brings valuable data, it’s not so clear-cut a meter:

stockvault-ata-analytics-concept183337Let’s say you run an ITSM team. During the last two years your team’s Css results have been around 3,2 – 3,5 (range 0 to 5). Your customer is moderately happy, but it’s obvious they could be happier. After a steering group meeting with the customer, your CIO sets a new target level in Css: 4,0.

As a number-wise thing to do it’s “easy” to go through the survey results and look beyond the numbers. That’s a start. But what would you answer if I asked for example:

  • How much you can reduce your costs by reaching your new target level 4,0?
  • What’s your estimation; how much more revenue you can achieve from your customer if you reached 4,0 by the end of the beginning fiscal year?
  • etc.

That’s an example of the problematic when dealing with intangible benefits. I suppose almost everybody can agree that higher Css results are better than the low ones, but converting Css results into the revenue numbers on the budget is tricky.

converting Css results into the revenue numbers on the budget is tricky.

What I’m saying is that Css results is one of the absolutely essential KPIs, but don’t get yourself distracted thinking that would suffice. In order to provide world-class ITSM you need other metrics and targets as well.

 

Pictures are from Stockvault web page.

 

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