Among the key ingredients for any successful service business is a commitment to continually refining process and increasing efficiency. Looking for ways to ensure better utilization of your resources can enhance the profitability of your business. Finding opportunities to automate repetitive tasks can eliminate human error and improve task completion rates. But what happens when you only focus on internal efficiency? What about the people on the other end of your systems? What is their experience like? This is a challenge faced by any IT service company or any organization’s IT department.
One danger to a growing service organization is that the pursuit of profit and efficiency can corrode a “small business” focus on customer service. It’s the hubris of success that great business authors like Jim Collins write about. As your business grows and revenue skyrockets, it’s easy to take your customers for granted. It’s easy to assume they love you and will keep coming back. It’s tempting to think that a focus on controlling your costs, and streamlining workflows will always result in better business. It’s a common occurrence. But you are what you measure. A focus only on internal KPIs is just that; a focus on yourself, not your customers. And we all know what happens next.
In the worst case, customers and clients cease to become people, they become numbers. We all have anecdotal horror stories of waiting on hold for ages with our big Telco and cable providers – cursing their overly “corporate” absence of sensitivity to customer experience. However, today we live in an experience driven economy. As consumers, we have choice and we don’t have to suffer like we used to. We can go elsewhere.
Thinking of our own company, of course profitability matters – we need to operate a healthy business, but none of that makes a lick of difference if our clients fall out of love with us. Our clients don’t give a hoot about our internal efficiencies until it impacts them. What they care about is the integrity and consistency of our service delivery. They care about their experiences. And so they should. That’s why they pay us. Do we keep our promises? Do we deliver on time and communicate well? Are the people that represent our brand acting as good ambassadors out in the field?
If we are going to ask our clients to trust our team with managing their IT infrastructure, then shouldn’t their feedback be among the most important things we could measure as a service company? Client experience is among the most critical KPIs we have. We ask our clients to fill out experience and satisfaction surveys after every project engagement, however small. We send out hundreds of short surveys each month on closed service tickets. We publish our current client satisfaction rating on the dashboard monitors on our office walls. This is why we created a Client Advisory Council that meets twice a year to review our service offerings, pilot new projects, and give us suggestions on how to improve. We bake all of this direct client feedback into the performance review framework of nearly every IT Weapons team member. Why? Because you are what you measure. Because client experience matters.
Today’s IT team is in the same boat. You operate a service delivery engine for your business. As an IT leader in Canada, aren’t you also tasked with delighting your own “customers”? Think of the executive leadership, the lines of business, and the users that depend on your team and the IT systems you look after. These are the voices that should be helping to guide your innovation and your strategic planning. The question is, do you have a meaningful way to measure their experience? What would they say if you did? Give your “customer” a voice and you give yourself a window into your own success.