Recently, while searching the internet about customer support and satisfaction, I come across an article about “Customer Service Stats for 2019” (https://www.customerthermometer.com/customer-service/customer-service-and-satisfaction-statistics-for-2019/). In this article statistics and studies were shown from various companies (i.e. Microsoft, Gartner, etc.) talking mainly about customer experience.
Been in the IT / technology sector for many years and seen company relations with their clients and support levels playing a part in the outcome of projects (succeed or fail), this article triggered into me the idea of writing something about the importance of customer support. In particular a statement from Gartner in the above article “With 89% of businesses soon to be expected to compete mainly on customer experience, organizations that take customer experience seriously will stand out from the noise and win loyal customers” was the starting point for me. It was the start point writing some of my thoughts about the importance of customer satisfaction in the outsourced software development sector, although I am convinced that the same principles apply to all sectors.
Outsourced software development services are getting more and more popular recently and the trend is getting stronger because of its effectiveness in reducing labor costs, boosting business performance and allowing access to global IT expertise. Interestingly, according to Statista reports, the global market for outsourced services has risen from $45.6 billion in 2000 to $85.6 billion in 2018. This trend indicates that software outsourcing will further increase in the coming years as companies seek better quality control and efficiency.
Software outsourcing can be split into two broad categories. One is to subcontract software development services to a subcontractor that will develop software according to client requirements and the other is to outsource resources needed for the development. In other words, find a subcontracting firm that has the appropriated resources and the technology knowledge and utilize its resources (offshore – nearshore) in order to develop the software. The company has the complete control of the project, utilizes the right resources according to needs, saves time and it is costing it less than inhouse development.
In both cases mentioned above, the critical point appears to be delivering results as agreed, adding value to the final deliverable and satisfying the customer. The key word then is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is an important company intangible asset and it should be treated as such.
The question then is how a company can achieve a high customer satisfaction, how it can measure it and most importantly how to sustain it.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
Easy to say but not so easy to implement and not so easy to translate in to your advantage.
It is important that you should have an open and direct line of communication with the client, be aware of his expectations, and more importantly be prepared to listen and take corrective steps in needed.
It is true that gathering regular feedback from the customer it is not always seen as first priority and by the time one has some feedback, it’s too late. Major obstacle is the uncertainly or the lack of clear path on how to do it.
To measure something, you have to understand what you are measuring, what are the key parameters characterizing it, and most critically are you on the same “wave length” with the customer? (i.e. are you talking about the same thing?). Can you translate the measurement into corrective actions?
Do not forget that a well-structured questionnaire, helps understanding the feedback and will provide you with the insight to drive future decisions, resulting in a truly customer satisfaction and customer orientated services.
Something that most companies forget is the fact that satisfied customers will spread the word by recommending you to others and your brand name will be become stronger and more recognizable in the market. Have you ever thought that it might cost more money to gain / attract new customers than to keep an existing one?
One approach for measuring customer satisfaction is to prepare a structured survey requiring from your customer specific information about positive and negative perceptions that you believe it would help you improve your outward company image. At the same time, by implementing the survey strategy in order to collect information and take corrective actions if needed, it will show to your clients that you care about your reputation as a customer-friendly company and you are committed to serve your customers.
The survey will need to be structured in sections covering a range of questions including for example:
- Response times (to requests, to corrections, or even to a simple call)
- Clarity and quality of the deliverables,
- Efficiency and reliability
- Communication obstacles and support
- Cooperation and documentation
- Training and Implementation
- Technology knowledge and technology transfer.
- Meeting usefulness
- Company / Management opinion
And certainly, a section that the customer can input his comments (negative or positive) and his suggestions.
Of course, the list can be endless and can be adapted according to the target group (management, technical staff, etc.). The survey can be repeated from time to show you any improvement.
Valuing the importance of our customer’s opinion, our company over the years has structured, customized and developed its own Customer Survey questioner. This questioner is communicated to our customers directly via email or using online survey software like SurveyMonkey®.
A complimentary copy of our Customer Survey questioner is available to you
Happy customers are always returning customers and happy customers means happy employees. If the customers are satisfied with your support, new contracts will be signed and revenues will keep increasing. A satisfied customer is an asset to any business. In the words of Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience speaker in the USA “All of your customers are partners in your mission.” And the company’s mission is to deliver value and satisfy customers!