Let’s say you are convinced of the benefits a client satisfaction program can have on your IT services business, and you have rightly instituted surveys to solicit client feedback. Now ask yourself: what should you do with the data you’ve collected? That’s where benchmarking comes in.
Take the data of your client satisfaction levels and a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them against an industry baseline. The baseline is created by aggregating similar ratings across an anonymous population of ITSPs, MSPs, VARs and other business technology solution providers.
The process of benchmarking will provide you with immediate visibility to the developing industry standards and real-time where your business ranks against those standards – and the difference between the two.
What is Benchmarking and Why Is It Important?By definition, benchmarking relies on the collection and comparison of a standard set of data points over a period of time. This apples-to-apples approach not only makes it possible for you to compare your own performance quarter over quarter and year over year, it also allows you to compare your organization to your peers and competitors.
In fact, in its framework of best practice guidance for IT Service Management, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) professes self-assessment reports alone are not sufficient; you need to leverage that data to get a clear view on where your results position you relative to the best-performing businesses in your market segment. To achieve this, ITIL recommends benchmarking as the process whereby “organizations evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practices.” In a context of client satisfaction, that means ranking your performance scores against data aggregated from similar IT services organizations.
Providers who commit to benchmarking will quickly recognize the intrinsic value and improve the performance of both their employees and their overall business – and significantly improve client retention.
Using Benchmarking and Surveys TogetherSoliciting and collecting feedback from your clients lets you react to issues at a client or staff level, and it’s the first step in creating a continual service improvement program. But, the ability to aggregate that data and analyze it relative to your peers can help you adjust and shape your business processes and maximize the impact of the data you collect.
For benchmarking purposes, and to elevate the overall value of your surveys, you’ll want to use a standard set of questions, common to all benchmarking participants, to ensure the relevance and proper reporting of the results.
With those results in hand, you’ll quickly identify opportunities for improvements. For example, if you find that your technicians’ response times are below the industry average, you can make a decision as simple as hiring additional staff or as complex as overhauling your dispatch process. Whatever the need, benchmarking gives you a baseline to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of your major service delivery processes.
Simply put, when paired with a regular client survey program, benchmarking will give you three critical pieces of information you can use to increase overall client satisfaction:
- A baseline of industry service delivery metrics
- Your company’s current service delivery metrics
- The difference between the two – so you can easily see where and how you can adjust processes to improve your business and build client retention
Len DiCostanzo is Dean of Autotask Academy and Senior VP of Autotask Corp., developers of Autotask cloud-based IT business management software, the VARStreet family of advanced quoting and e-commerce tools and Taskfire, a hosted service desk and ticket management system sold by IT solution providers for businesses of all sizes with internal IT resources.