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Open Feedback is Key to Improving IT

It always amazes me just how many IT departments believe they’re “doing a great job”, but don’t actually  know how they’re doing.  Without gathering feedback from end-users, it’s hard truly understand the quality of service provided. Creating an open feedback loop builds a stronger relationship with end-users, gathers measurable feedback on IT performance and helps to improve overall service levels.

There’s two levels of surveys that should be considered: one for specific incidents and another for the overall IT experience.

Many of my clients with established IT departments have implemented simple “2 minute surveys” which are either automatically sent by the help desk system, or are randomly sent by a manager. They also send out semi-annual “overall experience” surveys.

We’ve used SurveyMonkey in almost every case – it’s free and works fantastically. Implementation time for the entire project is usually under an hour.

For specific incident surveys, focus on customer-service related questions.  For example, ask about communications, resolution time, support person knowledge level and expectations management.

Peter Kretzman posted a great article on using feedback loops to improve performance last year.  He’s also included some sample questions which focus on the overall IT experience.

As Peter explains, it’s important to have a thick skin when doing surveys.  IT Management (be it the Help Desk Manager, IT Manager or CIO) need to be going through the responses regularly and openly dealing with any situations that come up.  Part of the feedback loop is to circle back around with the respondents to discuss specific issues and thank them for their feedback.

Within IT, these surveys become a very important tool for staff and service improvement. When there are issues, details are now documented and management can work with the people involved to improve performance and processes. Don’t forget that these surveys also show successes and need to be celebrated.

They also become the basis of some simple metrics, including end-user satisfaction which can be reported clearly to management.  With metrics, it’s easy to show trends, such as improvement in quality of service, reduction in service calls.

Imagine being able to tell the CEO that the help desk closed 85% of the request in under an hour and 90% of the feedback received was listed as “4 – Very Good” or “5 – Excellent”.  With some simple surveys and a proper feedback loop, you’ve gone from “we’re doing great” to proving it, and showing the trend.

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