The trouble with customer satisfaction

Posted by Mike Vizard on Nov 3, 2016 11:18:20 AM

Customer Satisfaction.jpgA new report suggests that when it comes the customer experience being provided by IT service providers there’s plenty of room for improvement. But, who is ultimately responsible for this state of affairs is debatable.

The 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings of Tech Vendors report surveyed 800 IT leaders from large companies to determine how they rated 62 large technology vendors in terms of success, effort, and emotion. The most troubling aspect of the survey from the perspective of IT service providers is that no less than six of the leading IT services firms occupy the bottom six rankings. Starting with Cognizant in 57th place, the next five slots are held by Sunguard, CSC, the outsourcing arm of Accenture, Infosys, and finally Capgemini.

The highest ranking pure play IT service provider is ACS Services occupying the 17th slot. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s outsourcing unit occupies the number one slot, followed by IBM and Dell outsourcing services occupying the fifth and sixth slots respectively.

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In general, pure play IT service providers are often at a disadvantage when it comes to customer satisfaction. IT services teams that belong to a vendor typically have more access to internal engineering resources to solve specific issues. But the survey results do suggest that customers are not especially happy with many of their IT service providers.

Fighting an uphill battle

Historically, large IT service providers have been dinged by customers on two primary issues. Given the cost structures and the size of their organizations, they often need to hire IT personnel with a limited amount of expertise, and IT organizations resent having to essentially train the staff of their IT service providers. Secondly, there’s a reliance on offshore IT talent that creates language and time zone challenges that many customers don’t appreciate when they selected the lowest cost bidder for a particular project.

But there’s also a more insidious issue at work here that the IT industry has been slow to address. Most pure play IT service providers take on challenging endeavors involving products and technologies that are often overly complex. Even in the age of the cloud, the cost of caring for a IT solution usually dwarves the cost of acquiring and implementing it. Anytime anything goes wrong, IT service providers are on the front line when it comes to absorbing customer ire.

Wrestling with complexity

The paradox here is that most vendors reward their partners based on customer satisfaction, even though many of their products make attaining that satisfaction problematic. Of course, there’s no IT vendor today that isn’t trying to make the need for simplicity a fundamental rallying cry in their marketing literature.

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But no matter how simple the latest IT sensation may be, there’s trillions of dollars of complex legacy IT infrastructure running arcane enterprise applications that aren't going to go away anytime soon. More advanced IT organizations are trying to migrate legacy applications to containers such as Docker to make their IT environments simpler to manage. But usage of containers as an enterprise technology is still in its infancy.

In the meantime, IT service providers are being routinely asked to stitch together any number of modern and legacy interfaces to create IT solutions that by definition are going to be fragile. Any single change to one of those interfaces and suddenly that IT solution no longer works as advertised. A few minutes later job tickets for IT service providers are being created regardless of whether or not they're at fault.

In short, being an IT service provider is all too often nothing less than a thankless endeavor. That may be cold comfort to the average IT service provider, but the next time a vendor gets in your face about customer satisfaction, remind them that they could do more to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

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Photo Credit: Alexandre Delbos via Flickr.com. Used under CC 2.0 License

Topics: IT Services Trends

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