Customer Satisfaction (CSat) Survey for ITs

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While Customer Satisfaction (CSat) surveys can be good to improve services in most cases, in IT my experience is that it can be detrimental to the organization if the IT head is too much conscious of how his customers view him, or if he tries to please his customers in order to get good CSat surveys. The IT head often has to do things that are right for the organization even if it may displease his customers. I can cite real life situations in my experience which illustrate this.

We had a new business opening up at Canada and a department which was in India started operating out of Canada too. They were using one of my internally developed customized packages for a critical service delivery process in Indian operation. The same software was to be deployed in Canada. When we started implementing the system in Canada, the process head at Canada asked us for changes to be incorporated in the application.Instead of simply making the changes as requested by my users, my team has now learned to question why the change is required. According to us there was no need of a change in the process as the same process was in operation in India – only the persons owning it in India and Canada were different. We requested that a common Point of contact be appointed from among the department who could study the processes in operation in both India and Canada and suggest if there is really a change required. On detailed study it was found that there was no change required and the same system could be implemented in Canada too.

I may have displeased my internal customer initially by not complying to his request, but by having one version in India and Canada, I gave my company the following solid benefits:

  1. Saved time of developers and thus cost to company by avoiding the customization effort
  2. Saved time to deliver the product to Canada operations as customizations would have taken time to complete
  3. Ensured one less number of version of software to maintain – thus reducing the staff requirement in my department and saving cost to company

The above were primarily benefits for my department and indirect benefits to the company. What is more important is the following list of benefits which directly benefit the company:

  1. Ensured uniformity of procedures at both locations thus resulting in better processes, faster learning time, no relearning required on employees transferring from one location to other
  2. Ensured that the software did not become prone to errors as every change makes it vulnerable. Thus also minimized errors and chances of  interruptions to operations due to software breakdowns and bugs.
  3. Made it simple – the lesser the versions of processes, simpler the operations

A similar incidence came to light in another department when a process which was running in Chennai city office was replicated in Mumbai city. In this case too, my application which was used in Chennai was to be used in Mumbai process. And again there was a change request. In this case, there was somehow a slip and before my team manager could insist on a uniform process at both cities, someone lower down in his team had already created two different versions and given it to Mumbai. I came to know about it when I got a thank you mail and appreciation from my Mumbai internal customer! I may have made my client happy but did I do the right thing for the company?  And in Canada, I am sure my customer may not be as happy as my Mumbai customer, but I am sure I did what was right for the company. Remember, they are both my internal customers.

And if there is a CSat survey, my Mumbai customer will certainly give me the best ratings and the Canada one may not, but should I ignore the interest of my company for the sake of a few brownie points? I am dead clear I will not – even if it means I am the most hated person in the company.

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