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Increasing IT Customer Satisfaction and IT Performance in a Difficult Economy with Tight Budgets

This article describes how IT customer satisfaction surveys, when conducted effectively and action is taken based on survey results, provide a powerful solution for increasing IT customer satisfaction and IT performance in a tight budget environment.

IT’s impact on your organization’s performance - OK, we all know that IT is critically important to any organization’s performance and success. Internal and outsourced IT resources are an integral part of any business. Technology impacts your organization's ability to attract and retain customers, compete effectively, provide high levels of customer service, drive workforce productivity and much more. With the current downturn, IT is more critical than ever. IT support typically includes in-house and outsourced Help Desk Support, Desk Side Support, Application Support and providing support for other IT services.

Most employees depend heavily on a well functioning IT infrastructure and IT support - In most organizations, the majority of employees directly or indirectly depend on technology to perform their jobs effectively. In many cases, customers also rely on effective technology to transact business and retrieve information.

Tightening IT support budgets - As sales and revenue have significantly decreased at most companies and other types of organizations, IT budgets are being squeezed, placing greater pressure on staffing and IT service levels. IT staff levels are being reduced, often below already low levels.

Tradeoffs between IT support and IT budgets - The conventional wisdom is that providing high levels of IT service is costly and that corporate and IT managers need to assess the tradeoff between paying for high levels of IT support and reducing IT costs, leading to lower levels of IT customer service. More often than not, controlling budgets wins over providing high levels of IT customer service.

IT Heads and Directors are under siege – It is no secret that IT Heads and Directors are under extreme pressure to keep costs under control while keeping IT performance levels and IT customer satisfaction levels high. Unfortunately, for many IT Heads and Directors, this has been easier said than done.

The secret: how to increase IT customer satisfaction and IT performance when budgets are tight – One of the best ways to increase IT customer satisfaction and IT performance levels, regardless of IT budgets, is to conduct IT customer satisfaction surveys and to take action based on the survey results. The process is simple….conduct surveys, analyze the results, share the survey results with in-house or outsourced IT managers and staff, establish IT SLA’s (service level agreements), create action plans to increase IT service levels, then conduct ongoing/periodic IT surveys to measure progress and keep taking action to continuously improve service levels.

When it comes to IT, Bad breath is not better than no breath - Be prepared to take action based on survey results – Some of the many needed actions IT customer surveys will likely point to include working with IT customers to create realistic IT service level standards, technical and behavioral training for some IT staff members, managing response times for IT service requests and problem resolution, identifying and reducing the most frequent recurring problems, communicating effectively with IT customers, and managing IT incident resolution on a consistent basis by location and type of IT customer. You should also be prepared to replace select IT staff members that are not effective and that are not responding to training, mentoring and the requirements of the job. Before he hired Quantisoft to conduct an IT customer survey, one IT manager that said he was fearful of losing his job told us, “bad breath is better than no breath”. He believed that having a marginally effective IT person in place is better than having no one in the position. His attitude changed after he received the survey results.

Value of IT customer satisfaction surveys - If you are skeptical about the value of IT customer satisfaction surveys, just try it and do it well. Make sure to analyze the results, create action plans and take action. Make sure there are no sacred cows. Take action where survey findings identify the need to improve service. If you have questions, call or e-mail me. My contact information is included in this article.

We recommend two types of IT customer satisfaction surveys:

1. Annual IT customer satisfaction surveys assess IT customer satisfaction with Help Desk, Desk Side Support and Application Support performance over a specific period of time (typically annually or semi-annually). Surveys identify locations and departments with opportunities for improvement in service and customer satisfaction. Annual IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys ask IT customers about their perceptions and satisfaction with service levels during the past year. Annual IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys identify areas of strength and areas needing improvement in knowledge, professionalism, ability to understand customer's problem, response time, follow-up, satisfaction with resolution, service ticket closeout process, etc. Annual trend graphs measure performance progress.

2. Ongoing monthly incident follow-up IT customer satisfaction surveys assess IT customer satisfaction with Help Desk, Desk Side Support and Resolver/Application Support performance for specific IT service incidents. IT incident surveys identify customer sites and business units with opportunities for improvement in service and customer satisfaction. Survey results pinpoint service attributes needing attention (knowledge, attitude, response time, service ticket closeout process, meeting SLAs/service level agreements, etc.), and identify individual IT service staff with low customer satisfaction ratings. Monthly trend graphs display improvements in performance and pinpoint performance shortfalls.

Benefits of IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys

IT customer satisfaction surveys enable organizations to realize significantly greater value from IT support resources, achieving the following benefits for IT Heads and Directors and your organization:

1. Increase IT performance, enabling significant improvements in the performance, effectiveness, competitiveness and satisfaction of IT's internal and external customers

2. Pinpoint and diagnose IT problems and opportunities, and connect the dots across the organization

3. Gain insight for prioritizing IT performance improvement initiatives and projects

4. Achieve breakthrough improvements in IT and help desk service attribute performance including timeliness, professionalism, courtesy, knowledge, communications with customers, problem resolution effectiveness, etc.

5. Identify and deal with lowest performing IT and help desk staff

6. Enable IT customers to communicate more effectively with Help Desk, Desk Side Support, Applications Support and other IT service providers

7. Increase IT service quality and productivity

8. Reduce IT costs

9. Make better, more objective decisions based on customer and employee feedback.

10. Identify problems and opportunities by agent, IT team, product, site location, communication channel, customer business unit and type and other criteria

11. Focus investments in IT staffing, training, equipment, teams and programs where they will have the greatest payback

12. Identify and fix recurring problems

13. Improve coaching using customer feedback

14. Increase validity of IT staff reward and recognition based on customer feedback

15. Send an important message to IT staff and IT customers that IT management cares about performance and satisfaction

16. Increased performance and job security for IT Heads and IT Directors

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Howard Deutsch is CEO of Quantisoft, a full service survey company. Quantisoft conducts IT customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction/engagement, customer opinion, sales force opinion, business risk assessment, ethics & compliance risk culture and other types of surveys.  Contact Howard Deutsch at (609) 409-9945 or hdeutsch@quantisoftdotcom. Survey information and tips are presented at

Info. about IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys

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