If we ask an IT Manager about how good their CSAT is looking, we are likely to have the following or similar answer – “My SLAs have been doing well and we are improving too! But, ironically my CSAT is still the same no matter how hard I try, I just can’t make my customers happy!” This is a common phenomenon in IT, and shows a clear gap between what is expected by the customer versus what is delivered by IT. But “what causes the gap and how does it build up?” In spite of being consistent on SLA adherence, SLA is considered the most critical basis for the penalty clause or performance measure for a service contract.
I think there are 2 primary causes for the gap between the expected versus actual IT services, namely:
- Inside-out focus of IT – Developing offerings as per the service provider’s capability, instead of customer’s needs & expectations
- Generic SLAs – SLA measurements not addressing a specific requirement by each individual customer on the desired performance & warranty of a service
Bridging the Gap
Evidently, a lack of focus on customer’s need is the primary cause for the service quality gap, and so the clear solution should be to understand the needs & expectation of the customer. Your services will create value for your customers only if they fulfill the functionalities and assurance the customers need. However sometimes a customer may lack a clarity on the utility & warranty they require, so it’s good to start by knowing the outcome a customer wants to achieve by using your services, to offer the best utility & warranty which matches the specific requirement.
Following is a 3 step best practice approach, which can help you bridge the service quality gap:
Step 1: Analyze the Voice of Your Customers
Customer & User Feedback along with the usage pattern, are very useful leads to gauge the utility or effectiveness of a service. Collect meaningful feedback from your users and customers leveraging different forums and mechanisms to know their opinion on the services you deliver, the pain points that they may have or the causes for any dissatisfaction or any conflict between what is requested vs what is delivered. Also analyze the usage in case of an existing service and adoption rate in case of a newly of a newly introduced service to see how much a service is being used as compared to the others.
Step 2: Investigate to Identify Gap & the Root Cause
Analyze the survey ratings and compare them against the SLA performance of a service to see if the rating matches the SLA achievement. If it doesn’t, then it could be a service quality gap. While the ‘5 Why’ analysis is a useful mechanism to get to the root cause for any gap or dissatisfaction in customers, the key words from a survey which help you with 5 Y analysis can be obtained by leveraging powerful Text Analytics, which surfaces keywords as areas of concern.
Step 3: Re-Align Your Offerings & Witness the Benefit
Once the root cause is pointed out, draw a plan to bridge the gap. Some of the potential causes could be –
- The offering not meeting the utility required by the business
- Warranty is not sufficient or to meet business need
- Generic SLAs
- Engineer’s lack of skills and training
- Service desk’s courtesy
- Communications of the delivery team
- Service hours
- Service no longer required
- Mode of delivering the service
Once the root cause is identified in the previous step, then it’s all about formulating the right strategy to address the cause. Once the re-alignment or rectification is done, then the same service parameters should be monitored to see if the change was effective in improving the customer satisfaction.
To learn more about the complete data based story with the key analysis on how to drive customer satisfaction, visit our Insights Showcase article Deliver What Your Customers Value.
Collecting and Measuring Feedback
While there are many traditional & effective ways of collecting feedback from users and customers, such as – Ticket closing survey, Customer Reviews, In-App feedback, Periodic survey, and each of these mechanisms and forums do a great job in taking feedback in a formal way. But there are other less formal and innovative methods such as – Usability test, Anonymous survey, Live Chat, Discussion boards, Community groups and Personal email to a department head, which do a wonderful job too by adopting a less formal way of taking customer feedback and encouraging more participation.
One of my favourite mechanism to measure and drive customer satisfaction is Net Promoter Score method (NPS), which helps to categorize your customers and address their specific needs in an appropriate manner.
Here are 2 key resources to learn more about NPS.
[Photo credit: Pixabay.]