KPI's help improve customer satisfaction

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) help improve customer satisfaction

I’ve been doing some work recently on KPIs (key performance indicators). As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, these are becoming increasingly important to demonstrate to the rest of the business how effective (or otherwise) the IT support team is. At the moment, the focus is on service performance but we’ll be rolling out KPIs across the department shortly, so that we can track performance across the whole IT function.

So far, the stats are looking pretty good; we may have the odd glitch but overall our incident and problem management procedures are working well. We’re looking at ways of publishing this information to the wider organisation.

We’ve still got a bit of work to do on the behavioural side however. The most effective desktop support analyst I ever worked with was a guy, let’s call him Fred, who naturally built up a rapport with users, whether face-to-face or on the phone. He wasn’t particularly gifted when it came to the technical stuff, in fact, he was distinctly average. Nevertheless, the users absolutely loved him and frequently asked for him by name. It wasn’t because he had a high success rate (he didn’t), it was just the knack he had for building relationships with a wide variety of people, from the Chief Executive down.

Fred told one user that he had recovered her data using a special tiny vacuum cleaner, which he used to hoover the files off the disk. Complete nonsense, of course, but she understood what he was talking about and was delighted with the result.

He told another user, who’d been having persistent (and largely imagined) problems that their PC was at the wrong angle to the magnetic fields in the building. He rotated the machine 90 degrees and told the user that everything would be OK. And guess what? Not a peep.

The skill that he had was that ability to make whoever he was talking to feel like the most important person in the world. He’d ask them about their family, their pets, and he’d appear to be genuinely interested in everything they had to say. I worked with Fred long before I knew about psychology but I’d bet my pension that he was an extrovert.

What was particularly interesting was the reaction of his colleagues; they knew he wasn’t as good as they were, and were amazed (and more than a bit envious) that he had developed this reputation throughout the organisation as a technical superstar.

He left eventually. The executive PAs went into mourning for a month. I have never, in 25 years in the industry, seen a leaving card on which there were so many signatures.

So whenever there’s talk about KPIs, I always think back to Fred. Performance stats are useful, and remain an essential part of service management, but I am convinced that genuine customer satisfaction can only be defined by the quality of relationships, not by numbers.