Customer feedback – are your IT support teams making the most of it?

IT support teams who adopt Net Promoter practices are seeing huge increases in customer satisfaction. For example, 78% of our CIOPulse clients have seen a significant improvement in internal customer satisfaction, with over a third of those enjoying an increase of over 30%.

But in the same way that a thermometer in your ear doesn’t help you get better when you’re sick, a Net Promoter Score won’t help you improve either. One of the most powerful components of Net Promoter is not the metric, but the verbatim feedback gathered as you close customer tickets. Your customers’ answers to the “What did we do well? What could we do better?” question are absolute gold.

If you’re serious about improving internal customer satisfaction, you really should be collecting and making the most of customer feedback. Let me show you how and why…

The Power of Feedback

Using verbatim customer feedback for coaching, and mining it for recurring themes and insights, leads to an improvement in service quality in three ways:

  1. Greater staff engagement. Research shows a clear link between the frequency and quality of feedback and the level of staff engagement. And by sharing feedback continually, in a coaching context, we can reduce the reliance on ineffective annual performance reviews.
  2. Develop staff skills and behaviours. For customer-facing support staff, feedback from customers provides an unbiased source of examples of behaviours and skills that need to be corrected or reinforced. This makes coaching conversationsmore effective and much easier to have (for both parties!).
  3. Improve support operations. Although ITSM software and process frameworks are able to solve specific service problems, they don’t help you determine which problems need solving and which need solving first. And since customers are the only judge of service quality (that counts), customer feedback should form a critical input to your problem identification and prioritisation decisions.

When you’ve got engaged staff, with the right skills and behaviours, enabled by good tools and unhampered by poor processes, your customers will get great support.

The Benefits of Great Support

With great IT support comes three benefits:

  1. Happier (and more productive) customers. Happier customers are happier because they feel well supported. When things go wrong or they have a service request, they have confidence that their needs will be taken care of with minimal impact on their productivity. And there’s a brilliant virtuous circle here: happy customers lead to happy support staff. And when staff are engaged and happy they deliver better experiences to customers. It’s all very intuitive, but backed by research too.
  2. A better reputation for the whole of IT. When we fail to get the basics of good customer support right, IT’s reputation as a whole suffers. Why should the business trust IT on important strategic matters when IT can’t deliver on BAU?  The converse point is rather nicely made by one of our clients, “Since (…) our NPS has more than trebled, there’s lots of buzz about how IT has changed, lots of great feedback from upper management, and the exec are listening, respecting our expertise and signing things off!“. Happy customers are more forgiving too – seven times more likely to forgive a mistake!
  3. Reduced support costs. Put simply, happier customers cost less to serve. The things we do to improve efficiency are the same things customers tell us they want more of – more self serve (automation, knowledge articles), quicker resolution (first level resolution), and less recurring incidents (problem management). Less firefighting, less complaints, and less call status inquiries (about tickets that have disappeared into black holes) all contribute to lowering your support costs. Sprint are the poster child for this – they reduced their customer care costs by 33% at the same time they dramatically improved customer satisfaction.

Customer feedback is very powerful. It’s like free consulting. Are you making the most of it?

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