IT Performance Management Imperative #3: Measure Client Satisfaction. Completely.

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This blog is part of a series focused on IT Performance Management.

Any performance management system should include some measure of internal client satisfaction; this is arguably as important as the standard project and operational measures as well as the “holy grail” business value measure I wrote about in a previous post. Especially as clients are able to go to outside vendors as a substitute, the internal IT organization needs to do what it can to raise awareness of its challenges and make good investments.

I hear all kinds of excuses for not measuring client satisfaction. Some say their employee satisfaction survey has a few questions on IT and should be sufficient (this could only substitute for an annual survey and still only if the IT organization has constructed the questions to cover their needs). Some say the results would be too grim and shouldn’t be highlighted (acknowledging the feedback and then acting on it is the fastest way to improve the situation). Others say they already know how people would respond and should not bother (I’ve never executed one of these and not gotten some insights).

How this measure is constructed depends on the company and its specific types of needs, but several best practices should be integrated at a high level:

  • Make sure to include multiple measures that capture the various types of work of the IT organization (e.g. project work and operational work).
  • Combine both targeted surveys (end of project, incident closure) with annual surveys.
  • Combine some quantitative and qualitative feedback in the details of the satisfaction survey(s). Quantitative is critical for assessing performance and trending, but much of the details needed to make the improvements will be in the qualitative comments.
  • While some adjustments may need to be made over time, try to maintain the majority of the questions. Client satisfaction measures are most insightful when trending can be shown, since the pure data is so subjective.
  • Act on the feedback. Acknowledge that feedback has been heard and show what is being done to improve results. If nothing is “marketed” about the results, the participation in the survey and the scores themselves will likely drop the next year.
  • Tie incentives to client satisfaction surveys all around. Incent people to complete the survey through little gifts. Incent IT employees to improve results by giving rewards for one-off positive comments or all around improved results.

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