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Shared Services and Internal Customer Satisfaction – Change Begins with Measurement!

There is general agreement that Shared Services is a business model that enables resources to be leveraged across an entire organization, resulting in lower costs with agreed-upon customer-service levels.  In other words, Shared Services is not simply another attempt at cost reduction through centralization, since the focus goes beyond savings from consolidation to include continuous improvement methodologies that result in more efficient and standardized processes.

A key attribute is a measurement.  While service center leaders are often hesitant to focus on measures that are difficult to quantify (for example, “customer satisfaction”), a characteristic of successful implementations is to define “agreed-upon customer-service levels” that include a balance of cost, productivity, quality, service, and satisfaction measures.  Even though satisfaction levels are difficult to measure, implementing a measurement process that includes customer satisfaction is an important first step.

Recently, a Peeriosity member in the Shared Services Leadership research area performed custom research using iPolling1 by asking how companies measure the satisfaction levels of internal customers, with a follow-up question to see if the measurement process selected provided actionable insights to any issues that might be suggested by the survey findings.

The results were interesting, with 23% of the companies responding that they do not currently survey their internal customers to measure their satisfaction level.   Of the companies that do measure, half of them (and 38% of the overall total) use a standard customer survey that is administered at a set interval (typically once per year).   The other half use a combination of ad hoc surveys to key stakeholders and senior management, Net Promoter Score, or some other form of measurement. Here are the details:

description of how the company measures internal customer satisfaction in shared services ipolling

Of those companies that measure customer satisfaction levels, only 23% are very satisfied that the survey results provide information that is clear and concise, and at an actionable level of insight.  While 5% are not satisfied, the remaining 72% of companies who measure report that they have good information; however, additional follow-up is required to get to the level of detail required to take appropriate action.

satisfaction in the ability to identify issues at an actionable level ipolling results

These results highlight the fact that creating measures for customer satisfaction, where the measurement process is largely subjective, is difficult to quantify and is not easy to do. It often requires multiple approaches, with customer follow-up required to ensure that results are being interpreted correctly.  Absent additional analysis to clarify and clearly articulate the findings, the likely outcome is a static chart without any root cause identification or an action plan that can have a meaningful impact to improve performance.

Comments from companies who measure internal customer satisfaction levels suggest that, for many, the measurement is part of a process that, while imperfect, is still a valuable exercise.  For example, companies who consistently measure can compare results over time to identify and segment process defects or deviations or, in some cases, where additional training of either Shared Service staff or internal customers is required.  Here are some of the comments from iPoll participants:

  • We conduct an annual survey and use a web survey tool. We have a standard set of questions that are used across all functions.
  • We survey clients twice a year, using Survey Monkey. We are considering using more specific satisfaction surveys after certain types of transactions occur; for example, call center interactions, help desk ticket creation, etc.
  • We send out a survey once a year to contact at all of our customers. We have a high response rate, with results that provide us with detail for what problems are occurring.  This is in part because we encourage customers to add written comments.
  • We use a combination of point of service surveys (i.e. call center interactions) and customized surveys to key stakeholders.
  • We survey our internal customers annually. However, we have Service Level Agreements with each customer that we report on quarterly and we also participate in an annual Business Review meeting with internal customers. Because we have multiple points of contact throughout the year, we don’t expect (and don’t get) surprises on the customer survey.
  • We conduct a monthly transaction-level survey that all customers (internal and external) respond to with feedback on their satisfaction with a particular service.
  • We survey key stakeholders. The survey is sent to approvers and those who submit requests. We use the feedback to understand where we can improve, what we need to continue doing and to better understand the customer experience of the service. We have just sent out the third survey since this function was created about 3 years ago. In that time, it has evolved and improved significantly.
  • A survey is distributed annually to middle and senior management asking questions about satisfaction levels.
  • The Shared Services team sends out a customer satisfaction survey annually in July/August to a broad base of key stakeholders and internal customers.

When you measure satisfaction, simply asking the question to a concerned customer can have a positive impact by creating the impression that the customer’s opinion is valued.  Even more important is the need to communicate the action being taken in response to the feedback, with an easy process for concerned customers to continue a positive dialogue.

Does your Shared Services organization measure the satisfaction level of internal customers?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

1 “iPolling” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in the iPoll.

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