IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Benchmarking Service Performance

In the IT channel today IT services opportunities continue to grow and technology providers continue to transform their operations to be service driven. Many technology providers attribute 30- 50% of their revenue to services. On average, IT Services and Support Executive Forum members state that between 50-80% of their total net profit margin comes from services. With solution providers, VARs’ and MSPs’ dependency on IT services being this significant, it is essential to measure and benchmark service performance. There are ways to measure service performance internally, such as the efficiency of billable and contracted time to cover the cost of technical staff, revenue per engineer and on time performance metrics against SLAs. These are all important benchmarks when attempting to maximize operational efficiency. One of the most important areas that is overlooked in many cases is having a process to consistently measure customer satisfaction on service events and comparing your performance to others in the industry.

A properly structured customer satisfaction process provides statistical measurement of customer satisfaction on services performed in a variety of areas. The measured activities should include service response time, repair time, quality of support, professionalism, ease of service, communication skills, and overall satisfaction with your service. The process for measuring customer satisfaction should not be accomplished only through an e-mail survey. Studies have shown that these assessments provide data that is more extensive, but also tend to be answered by customers who are dissatisfied. Valid information can be derived from follow up phone calls, using a random sample of service events in a statistically significant selection process, to the 95% or higher confidence level. This level of confidence is accomplished by making all calls subject to follow up and by using a statistical table and a random sample selection process to gather the data. Of course, if you are a small business it would be simple to follow up on every call, but it is important that question consistency and statistical measures are followed, or your data may provide incorrect measurements. There are a variety of other factors that should be measured as well, depending upon the service performed. A customer loyalty index can be derived based on high marks from the responses, and industry benchmarking comparisons can be developed from a standard set of questions used over time.

The processes used by service organizations that maintain top IT service performance levels generally have customer service data collected by an independent third party using  a standardized set of questions (on respond time, fix time, as stated above) that are consistent over time.  The reason data should be collected by a third party is to ensure no issues are “hidden” or data is changed that makes things appear different than the real situation. The consistency of the data also allows the researcher to perform trend analysis and benchmark the data with other companies in the industry. The resulting information will provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your services organization in comparison to others in the industry.

Customer satisfaction data will provide information on each of your technician’s performances. It is important to analyze and trend data over longer periods if you’re using information for technician performance evaluations. It is also important to target a specific number of responses per technician each month to get a valid sample over time. You should document and archive all negative remarks, but avoid making decisions based on just a couple of customer comments. Design your analysis to include only the information that is applicable to the technician’s work that can be measured and where enough data is available to be statistically valid.

While measuring customer satisfaction is critical to on-going success in IT services, comparing service performance to other companies provides a strategic value that will give your business an edge in performance. Benchmarking data helps you pinpoint where changes need to be made and how to improve your service organization to be the most competitive.

Following the processes outlined above when measuring customer satisfaction for your IT services may sound like it is complex and hard to administer. But, that is not the case. CompTIA works with Service 800 to provide this type of process with the Service Metric benchmarking program, which was developed by members within the IT Services and Support Executive Forum. Whether you consider using this program or an alternative service, it is critical to your organization’s success to measure your customer satisfaction at least once a month. This data is another tool to help build service excellence and your customers will thank you over time with their continued loyalty. You will always find the information useful in helping you manage your business and make the right decisions.

About the Author

With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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