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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.

Many CIOs, IT Heads and IT Directors are under siege

It is no secret that CIOs, 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 CIOs, 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.
Quantisoft has conducted many IT customer satisfaction surveys of both in-house and outsourced IT departments. Our surveys have found that fully and partially outsourced departments do not necessarily operate more effectively than in-house departments. IT customer satisfaction surveys will tell you how well your in-house or outsourced IT resources are performing and what needs to be done to increase IT performance.

We recommend two types of IT customer satisfaction surveys:

  1. Annual IT Customer Satisfaction Surveys

    Use these surveys to 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). These surveys can help to 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

    Use these surveys to 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 IT's customers to significantly increase their performance and competitiveness
  2. Identify and diagnose IT problems and opportunities
  3. Gather information for prioritizing IT performance improvement projects
  4. Achieve significant improvements in IT and help desk performance including courtesy, professionalism, timeliness, problem resolution, knowledge, etc.
  5. Identify the lowest performing IT and help desk staff
  6. Enhance communications between IT employees and IT customers
  7. Increase IT service quality/productivity and reduce IT costs
  8. Make better, more objective decisions based on IT customer and employee feedback
  9. Identify problems and opportunities by CSR/technician, IT team, site location, customer business unit and other criteria
  10. Focus investments in IT staffing, training, equipment, teams and programs where they will have the greatest impact and payback
  11. Identify and fix recurring IT problems
  12. Provide useful IT customer feedback to IT employees
  13. Use IT customer feedback to strengthen IT staff reward and recognition
  14. Send a clear message to IT employees and IT customers that IT management cares about IT performance and IT customer satisfaction
  15. Increased performance and job security for CIOs, IT Heads and IT Directors
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