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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Consumerization: Customer satisfaction surveys

Consumerization: Customer satisfaction surveys

Everybody receives ‘em, from every kind of services: whether it was a hotel accommodation or a booking of concert tickets or anything.. In the era of consumerization the end customer is a king and their opinion counts. But what’s the point of customer satisfaction surveys if they fail to reach the most crucial thing: customer satisfaction?

My case: Invoicing gone bad

Last week I received an invoice concerning the maintenance service of my car. I knew for sure I had paid the bill in question already a month ago.

I called to the service desk and after waiting for around 10 minutes (I was not happy with 10 minutes response time!) my call was answered. The customer support person was polite and yes, the invoice was a double invoice and according to the customer support person I could just ignore it. There would not be a reminder of an unpaid bill coming afterwards.

When the phone call ended, it took less than 1 minute to receive a customer satisfaction survey (later on just “Css”) as an SMS. I could either answer Y(es) or N(o) to let the service provider know if my case was solved or not.

So let’s wrap up what really happened:

  • I got an unfounded invoice concerning a service I had already paid for.
  • I waited for ~10 minutes on the phone for response.
  • I got a Css in less than 1 minute.
  • I could just answer “(Y)”es or “(N)”o describing about my satisfactory on my case.

When the phone call ended, it took less than 1 minute to receive a customer satisfaction survey as an SMS.

Case closed?

The customer support person told me on the phone that the unfounded invoice had already been credited. However, it took three more days until I got the credit note and a so-called explanation of what had happened. Until I finally received it, I didn’t want to answer the survey: I had no tools to verify if they really had handled my case properly or not – and what’s even more serious: I didn’t trust them at this point.

By the way, do you want to know the root cause for the incident in this case? 

Ta-da-daa… Surprisingly: “system failure”! That’s really enlightening and I’m sure their customers can feel themselves relieved now..

Measuring customer satisfaction?

It’s interesting that the only answering option I got was a binary 0 or 1 (Yes or No) to the Css.

What’s the point of conducting Css’s if the only information you get is just Yes or No? Sure, you can do advanced mathematics and calculate the percentage of all the Css’s and compare the Yes-No results. That gives you something, but it’s almost nothing.

Wouldn’t you like to receive even a little bit more information? For example:

  • How likely would you be to recommend our customer service to your colleagues and friends [0-10]?
  • How would you rate your experience of our customer service in general [0-10]?
  • How quickly did you get through to a customer service specialist [0-10]?
  • ..

There are loads and loads and loads of examples of the Css questions in the internet, so there’s no need to list more of them here.

My point is: why to conduct Css’s if the only measure is a percentage of solved cases vs. all the cases?

Timing is everything

And finally, about getting the Css in advance: the problem is that if you answer to the Css too early (= before you are certain your case is handled properly and closed), you might

  • give unnecessarily good feedback of the service, if it later on turns out that your case was actually still unresolved
  • have to go your problem all over again, calling or otherwise contacting the service desk and dealing with yet another customer support specialist, because your earlier incident has already been closed and thus is not active any more.

Why? Because you answered Yes to the Css you received too early.

There is a collision between the Service Desk’s point of view and the end customer’s experience: from SD’s point of view the case is closed, but the end customer has no possibility to verify if the case is solved, they can only trust the Service Desk.