- February 20, 2018
- Posted by: Claire
- Category: Case Studies, Case Studies, Customer Service
By Claire Carradice, Freelance SEO Case Study Writer
Case Study Summary
Siemens IT Solutions and Services (the unit was since bought by EOH), at the time a national IT outsourcing brand, based in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, had a contractual obligation to their large clients, some of which were governmental, to:
a) Measure customer satisfaction levels, and
b) to achieve Service Level Agreements (SLA’s).
Their auditors required work around the customer satisfaction process, which was new and ineffective, only yielding on average, seven responses per month.
Siemens IT Solutions and Services needed guidance as to how to improve their survey responses, as well as using user feedback to drive continual service improvements throughout the organisation.
Siemens IT Solutions
- Increased the end-user customer satisfaction survey response rate by 99.5% in less than 2 years
- Raised end-user satisfaction by 40% in less than 2 years
- Increased customer loyalty by more than 96.30% in less than 2 years
Siemens IT Solutions and Services had implemented a customer satisfaction survey process for their IT Service Desk, but their customer’s users were not responding and as a result, the company had no way of gauging how they were doing in terms of the IT outsourced service they offered.
In fact, on average, they had a scant seven (out of thousands of users), completing the customer satisfaction survey every month.
The company’s strategy at the time, was to call and apologise to those seven users if they had given a poor rating, but nothing further was done to prevent repeating the same mistakes.
The company didn’t know how to get more users to complete the surveys, and further, although the Operations Managers would receive a copy of the Corrective and Preventative Report for each user who provided feedback, and were responsible for taking action, most of the action taken was superficial at best, and the root causes were not addressed.
This resulted in the same mistakes being repeated. And therefore, users experienced the same frustrations over and over again.
The Underlying Problem
Siemens IT Solutions and Services, like most technical outsourcing providers, consisted of a staff of highly technically minded employees who did not understand the concepts of marketing and customer experience.
They had a Marketing Department who owned the customer satisfaction survey process, but the employees in the Marketing Department did not understand the technical processes in Operations.
The company needed help from someone who would have the ability to understand the technical side, as well as the soft side, and then analyse the process and improve it so that continual improvements would be made, to keep the auditors satisfied, and retain clients when contracts came to an end.
Analysis and Findings
Siemens IT Solutions and Services employed a customer experience consultant who took over the process.
In-depth analysis was conducted around the process that was currently in place, and how it could be streamlined, improved and optimised.
This is what the original process flow looked like:
The original customer satisfaction survey process flow.
Starting in the Marketing Department, the user would submit feedback. A staff member in Marketing would contact the user, and complete the auditor-mandatory Corrective and Preventative Report, which would be sent to the Operations Manager to keep on record.
Finding #1: the process was owned by the wrong deparment
Although the Marketing Department and Operations was part of the process, both should not have owned it.
This is because Marketing needed to be in charge of the survey design and the communication aspects of the survey process, but certainly not the entire process.
And… the survey design was one of the biggest problems.
The Operations Department owned the survey design, and being technically minded, IT peeps have their own kind of personalities going that the rest of us don’t always understand. They are technically-minded and have no time for frills or fuss.
Their strengths lie in engineering, not service. Many people who are technical struggle with the aspects of human emotion.
Technical people are not service people because of the way their brains are wired.
Finding #2: the email asking for feedback was technical and boring
So when the survey link pitched up in the user’s email inbox, the subject header would look something like this:
A survey with an email subject header like this one is not likely to get a response.
This subject header of the email asking for feedback about the user experience, was problematic for these reasons:
- It was not user-friendly. You could see it was designed by a technical person, without thought for the end-user’s experience.
- The main message was that the IT call had been resolved. It did not indicate any request for the user to actually open the email, so the majority of recipients would simply delete the email without even opening it.
- If the user had received this notification without being contacted before the call was resolved, it could lead to major frustration on the part of the user.
If the user had gone so far as to open the email, they would have found this uninspirational wording:
Your call number SMN300098609337 has been resolved.
Please complete the customer satisfaction survey.
Again, the email body was not user friendly and certainly did not entice anyone to click on the link in order to complete the survey.
Finding #3: the people managing the process lacked the right skills
The person who had been managing the process in the Marketing Department lacked the right front-end skills.
Anyone contacting end-users needs the right training, especially when dealing with irate people – and this skill should not be the responsibility of Marketing.
Finding #4: nothing was done to drive continual service improvements
In addition, although an apologetic call to someone irritated with poor service does help, it can actually detract from its purpose, because when an end-user does not feel as if anything is being done about their suggestions or complaints, they will stop taking the time to provide feedback.
As for the Corrective and Preventative form being used (solely to placate the auditors), it was too cumbersome and but for being mere paperwork, did not serve a purpose.
There was no tracking or trending mechanism. When the form had been completed by the Service Operations Manager, the process was allowed to end there. There was nothing in place to use the feedback they were getting in order to drive continual service improvements.
#1: The email and survey form was changed
Under the advisement of the customer experience consultant, the subject heading was changed and the email as well as the survey form were made more user-friendly and fun to receive, and to complete.
The branding of the form was also non-existent at the time, so that was changed to better reflect the Siemens brand.
A tagline on the side was introduced to reinforce the message that their IT service provider cared:
Now, instead of seeing a boring, plain text screen, the user would see this when they opened the email that requested their feedback.
This is the form where users could rate their service experience.
The company started actively promoting the survey
Very importantly, a strategy was put in place to start promoting the completion of the survey every time a user’s call was resolved. The strategy included:
- Regular, value-add communication to users via newsletters and tips, and
- Offering fun incentives for completing the customer satisfaction survey so that they would see how important their feedback was to the company.
Regular communication generated interest and goodwill
The company also started regularly communicating things like “this user complained about xxx, and this is how we used the feedback to improve our service to you in future”. Messages like this reinforced the company’s desire for user feedback, and showed end-users and their companies, how seriously their feedback was taken.
Not every part of the process was automated
Further, the Operations Team set up an in-depth, intelligent report that worked with the IT Service Desk system (Remedy). Key here, was that it was recommended that the company not automate all the steps. Keeping certain elements manual, the process could be customised, so that the company would not lose the customer service experience, but at the same time, could still track all actions.
This was where the real power of the process lay, because users felt heard and that the company genuinely cared about making their lives easier.
Root causes were addressed for continual improvements
With the new customer satisfaction survey process, not only could Siemens IT Solutions and Services use feedback to address the root cause of problems, but could also push compliments into employee KPI’s, boosting staff engagement levels. To boot, feedback also drove training initiatives.
The end process looked like this:
The process continued below:
The revised process flow.
Results in Summary
- The process was analysed and revamped in order to obtain more user feedback and drive continual service improvements.
- The company created a comprehensive tracking and reporting method in order to keep abreast of what was working and what was not working.
- All users who completed the customer satisfaction survey form were contacted, whether they rated the service as poor or good.
- A big difference to usual customer experience processes, was that some of the process was left to be conducted manually instead of being automated. This is where the power lay.
- Made improvements to Siemens IT Solutions and Services offerings and service based on user feedback from the surveys, so that no problem stayed.
- Ensured continual service improvements because the root causes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction were being addressed.