IT customer support surveys are one of the two types of IT survey you should be doing if you’re serious about continual improvement. These are the surveys you issue continually as you close customers’ tickets. The periodic IT relationship survey is the second.
The IT relationship survey is concerned with ‘Overall how is IT doing and where do we need to improve?’. It helps reduce the risk of underinvesting in areas that are important to your customer and overinvesting in areas that aren’t. For these surveys, SurveyMonkey or Google Forms are just fine.
The customer support survey is concerned with ‘How well did we do when resolving that ticket and what do we need to do better next time?’. These transactional surveys give you the timely information you need to continually improve the IT customer experience and ensure you’re not suffering from the watermelon effect (your support SLAs are all green, but your IT customers aren’t happy).
Transactional IT surveys are a bit more complicated than IT relationship surveys and you have more choices about the software you use. Being successful at improving the IT customer experience starts with making the right software decision. You have four options:
- General purpose survey software, such as SurveyMonkey.
- The survey capability of your IT Service Management tool.
- Internal IT customer feedback software, i.e. cio-pulse.com.
- Generic customer feedback software, e.g. asknice.ly.
I’ll outline the key advantages and disadvantages of each and you can decide what’s right for you. For an ‘at a glance’ comparison of your options, I’ve included a table at the end of this post.
1. General purpose survey software
The advantages of general purpose survey tools, like SurveyMonkey, are that they give you complete flexibility on the design of your survey and freedom to do whatever you like with the data. And they also tend to be pretty cheap.
On the downside, general purpose survey tools give you complete flexibility on the design of your survey and freedom to do whatever you like with the data. Designing a good survey and an effective way of analysing the data is easier said than done.
General purpose survey software is also designed to be used for one-off or periodic surveys (e.g. IT relationship surveys). They tend to be hard to integrate with your customer support software for transactional use.
You also need to manually export your survey data to Excel in order to analyse and share it. It’s labour intensive, error prone and time consuming. That’s fine for periodic IT relationship surveys, but it isn’t really sustainable for a survey that you’re running continually.
2. Your IT service management tool
Using the transactional survey functionality of an IT service management (ITSM) tool has a couple of advantages over other options. Firstly, the survey capability is usually already paid for as part of your existing software license. And secondly, your customer satisfaction data can be accessed from within the tool, without having to use a third-party product.
ITSM survey functionality varies quite widely from tool to tool, but there are some fairly common drawbacks. Being stuck with sub-optimum questions or scales that don’t lend themselves to insightful analysis is one.
Also, ITSM surveys aren’t usually designed for mobile and so they’re clumsy to complete on phones and tablets which, of course, customers are increasingly using.
And the customer satisfaction analysis and reporting capability is often fairly basic, requiring the data to be exported to Excel or a third-party product.
ITSM tools can sometimes be customised to overcome some of these weaknesses. However, customisation takes time and money and injects the risk of making upgrades more complex, more expensive and riskier.
3. Internal IT customer feedback software
This is a new software category and there’s really only one product available in this space, cio-pulse.com. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am the founder of the company behind it. We originally built cio-pulse.com because we couldn’t find something that did what our clients needed.
cio-pulse.com is built specifically for internal IT support teams, rather than organisations who wish to measure the satisfaction of their external customers, and it does a number of things better than the alternatives. It sends SMS alerts to support team leads when customers are unhappy so they can take immediate recovery action and benefit from the service recovery paradox. It also makes customer feedback and satisfaction levels highly visible to the whole IT team, and provides IT management with monthly analysis. And it enables you to compare the customer satisfaction levels of each of your support teams, as well as benchmark yourself against other IT departments.
The main, albeit deliberate, limitation of cio-pulse.com is that the survey has been designed for the very specific purpose of gathering transactional customer feedback and so you do not have free reign to customise the survey questions.
4. Generic customer feedback software
There’s quite a few (external) customer feedback solutions available. For example, asknice.ly.com, customerthermometer.com and clientheartbeat.com. These solutions are built for small, growing businesses to gauge the satisfaction of their external customers.
These solutions look great, especially the dashboards. The surveys work well on mobile devices, some generate alerts when a customer is dissatisfied, and they benefit from the frequent release of new features.
Again, there’s a lot of variety in the products in this space and so the drawbacks will vary from product to product. One of the disadvantages for a corporate IT environment is that the dashboards are only available to the one person that has a log-on to the system. This makes sharing feedback and analysis difficult.
A real show stopper is when the survey can’t be integrated with your ITSM tool. Without this, surveys can’t be triggered when tickets are closed, feedback can’t be associated with specific tickets, and customer satisfaction scores can’t be calculated for individual support teams.
That was probably a lot to take in, so here’s a table that shows you what you get and what you’re giving up by choosing any of these options.
Comparison of software options for doing IT transactional surveys
|Desireable feature||Survey capability|
of ITSM Tool
|IT customer feedback software (cio-pulse.com)||Generic customer feedback software|
|Unlimited number of survey requests/responses||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Survey can be triggered when a support ticket is closed||Yes||Yes||Yes||Sometimes|
|Survey responses attributable to a specific ticket||Yes||Yes||Yes||Sometimes|
|Customer satisfaction data available within ITSM tool||Yes||No||Via API||No|
|Customer satisfaction scores calculated for each support team||Sometimes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Survey & report design done for you||Sometimes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Feedback & KPIs highly visible to all team members||Sometimes||No||Yes||No|
|Native Net Promoter Score support||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Surveys look great on mobile devices||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Alerts automatically generated when a customer indicates they're unhappy||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|New features frequently added||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customer satisfaction history survives ITSM tool migration||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customer satisfaction scores benchmarkable against other IT organisations||No||No||Yes||No|
|Management reporting done for you||No||No||Yes||No|
|Survey can be completely customised||Sometimes||Yes||Branding not questions||Sometimes|