CIOs need to balance three goals:
- Advancing the organization’s strategy
- Engaging the IT team members
- Keeping customers happy
By customers, I mean the people that your IT organization provides services to. In my case it is doctors, nurses, and other knowledge workers. Some people call these people “users,” but, as I have written in the past, that is a mistake.
Many IT Organizations Are Blind With Regard to Customer Satisfaction
I would argue these three goals are equally important. But, customer satisfaction is the most neglected. In my experience, most CIOs have all types of project portfolio reports that tell us how our strategic initiatives are doing. And most organizations wisely survey their employees periodically to measure employee engagement and satisfaction. Yet, most CIOs do not have good overall metrics about customer satisfaction. Are you doing better than last year? Which IT provided services most need improvement according to your customers?
Sure, you might send helpdesk customers an after-call survey. But that is a narrow measure of a single service. And quite frankly, these scores are largely meaningless (that is a blog post for another day).
Customer Satisfaction Is Important
An IT division can be completing all of their strategic projects with great success, and still be perceived within the organization as a failure if they are not meeting their customer’s expectations.
My Customer Satisfaction Story
I found (the hard way) that you really don’t know what your customers think of your service until you survey them in a methodical manner. I recommend all IT organizations survey their customers annually. In fact, all internal service providing organizations (HR, Legal, Finance, etc.) should join together to survey customers annually.
I thought the IT organization I led was providing good service until our first customer satisfaction survey, where we learned that 71 percent of customers rated our service as good and great that year (ouch). My first reaction was to blame the customer and rationalize the data by claiming how difficult it is to provide good IT services. Once I got over that initial bout of self-pity, I got to the business of identifying the area of greatest customer dissatisfaction (as surfaced by the survey and follow-up discussions). Our IT team developed a plan to improve those areas. Every year we would get more feedback, and every year we would develop improvement plans.
In our last survey, 92 percent of our customers ranked our service as good or excellent. This year-over-year improvement has been my most cherished accomplishment. It was also one of the greatest sources of motivation for the IT team members. They loved hearing the comments and seeing the scores.
I am happy to share the survey tools that I have used. I am also happy to share my aggregated results if you want to benchmark your results.