Over 40% of IT departments have listed “improve user satisfaction” in their strategic plan. But the first reaction for most of these is to start a series of initiatives that generates a lot of work and little benefits.
How can we improve satisfaction for the least cost/effort? Here, we will see a series of three steps to help improve user satisfaction. These steps are based on the latest research and take into account the prerequisites that are required to successfully improve user satisfaction.
1. REMOVE THE DISSATISFIERS
The first step to improve satisfaction is to remove the dissatisfiers. Dissatisfiers are the elements that when unmet causes dissatisfaction with the users.
The main dissatisfiers for users are the ones related to communication and support. The major complaints we hear from users are that IT doesn’t give warnings or doesn’t involve them in projects or downtime windows. This has a huge negative impact on satisfaction, as it directly affects their work and their ability to meet deadlines.
The second major source of complaints is around the help desk. Requests being “forgotten,” falling through the cracks or not answered for a long time are major dissatisfiers. Getting attitude from the agent and closing the request before the problem is solved are also high on the list.
Removing the dissatisfiers will not only improve satisfaction, but it will allow the improvement initiatives to be effective. Otherwise, users will see them as a tentative to put lipstick on a bulldog.
2. MEASURE SATISFACTION AND PERFORMANCE REGULARLY
When we talk about IT satisfaction surveys, we typically think of the old, annual survey. What typically happens is that an IT department runs its survey, results comes back and we find all sort of excuses to justify the results, think of a few initiatives and then we forget about it until next year.
The key to change this cycle is to treat satisfaction just like any other management KPI and measure it monthly. Of course, users will get fed up if you measure them monthly. This is why we recommend separating your users into twelve groups and surveying a different group each month.
A monthly IT satisfaction survey will have the following benefits:
Understand what works and what doesn’t: Monthly satisfaction results will clearly show which initiatives contributed and which had no effect on user satisfaction. This allows IT leaders to refine and adjust their strategies.
Improve satisfaction: Users typically never take the time to objectively evaluate the services they are receiving, thinking about IT only when there is a problem. Filling out a survey forces them to take a critical look at the services and helps them make a more realistic evaluation of their satisfaction.
Create a culture of service: What gets measured gets done. Measuring satisfaction monthly provides a clear target for IT managers and staff with regular feedback. This alone has been shown to encourage a culture of service.
3. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS AND ADJUST SERVICES
Satisfaction is determined by the difference between the service expected by the user and the service delivered. Most users tend to increase their expectations over time, faster than IT can keep up with. Left unchecked, it is a surefire way to create dissatisfaction.
Expectations are managed through communication. Publishing a service catalog helps to set user expectations around key features of the service. Reminding them of service levels at the time of the interaction (in the email message for tickets, for example) helps set expectations at each point of the relation. Reporting performance helps users to see the performance of the service as a whole, instead of simply through their own experiences.
Having a service catalog also allows a rational discussion with the users regarding what the level of service is really required. Improvements can be made to the services that are essential to them while leaving the others unchanged.
By properly managing expectations, it is also possible to reduce service levels in areas where it doesn’t provide value. With measurement and feedback from the users, it becomes possible to reduce costs while maintaining and improving satisfaction.
A GRADUAL PROCESS
User satisfaction is something that should be managed, instead of seeing it as a one-time event. Having a proper process to improve satisfaction gradually over time will lead to sustainable results and a better overall relationship.
Removing dissatisfiers will have the greatest impact on satisfaction.
Without regular measurement, it is difficult to understand which initiatives have an impact on satisfaction.
Managing expectation is key to attaining and maintaining high levels of user satisfaction.