Is it time to have a provider satisfaction survey?

Are You a Good Customer?

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The itSMF UK SIAM Special Interest Group

A case for Service Provider Satisfaction Surveys

By now we’ve got used to service providers sending us emails with customer satisfaction surveys. Some are short and sweet and others long and uninviting. But when you consider that service is all about co-creation of value by provider and consumer, it’s obvious that not only the service provider should perform well, but also the service consumer.

But how can the service consumer establish whether he or she is a good service dancing partner? By asking of course. That’s why I’m keen on the concept of a service provider satisfaction survey. While service provider have always formed opinions about their customers, companies like Uber, Airbnb, and OpenTable rate their customers systematically, although they are not always transparent about it to their customers.

What I’m talking about is the consumer soliciting feedback so that he or she can improve their co-creational skills. It might seem a little strange at the moment but I believe that it’s the way to go. It wouldn’t surprise me if better customers not only get better outcomes but also better conditions.

Managing Provider Relationships

Here’s another role-reversal. Providers use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to keep track of how much business we do with them and to target us with hopefully appropriate offerings. We need Provider Relationship Management (PRM) systems that track providers’ performance and publish our needs. Then selected providers know what we actually need, instead of still trying to sell us solar panels months after we’ve made a purchase elsewhere.

Let’s get back to the survey. What kind of questions should we as service consumers ask our service providers? Well, let’s start at the beginning of a typical service encounter. Dear service provider, did I greet you politely? Was I clear about my needs? Did I observe the procedures? Was I proactive in mentioning any concerns during the service act? Did I play effective part in co-creating value for both parties? Was I easy to work with? Did I inform you in good time about any changes in needs or conditions? Did I pay on time? How likely are you to recommend me to other service providers?

Oh yes, and the final question: did I fill in your stupid customer satisfaction survey?

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Mark Smalley, also known as The IT Paradigmologist, thinks, writes and speaks extensively about IT 'paradigms' – in other words our changing perspectives on IT. His current interests are the digital enterprise, IT operating models, value of IT, business-IT relationships, co-creation of value, multidisciplinary collaboration, working with complexity, and as the overarching theme, management of information systems in general. Mark is an IT Management Consultant at Smalley.IT and Ambassador at the ASL BiSL Foundation. Mark has spoken at 100+ events in 20+ countries.