Recipe for service desk

The Perfect Recipe for Service Desk Customer Feedback Forms

Maintaining a 5-star service desk relies on the continual assessment, and potential improvement, of the service you offer. But it can be difficult to know where you need to improve, especially when KPIs and SLAs are glowing green. Sometimes you just need to dive deeper into what end users and customers think of your service.

And how do you gain customers’ opinions? Yes, the good ol’ customer feedback form!

There’s Nothing New Here (But Perhaps There Should Be)

A customer feedback form used smartly will provide the data and insight you need to help improve service desk efficiency and effectiveness. The feedback is an immediate gauge of your customers’ temperature and is a fast, scalable way to measure your service on top of more volume and process-oriented KPIs and SLA metrics.

However, baking the perfect feedback form relies upon a recipe of carefully crafted questions, put across in the right way at the right time to enable you to gather information that is both useful and relevant.

So whether you’re looking to gain customer feedback from ad-hoc surveys or event-triggered forms, here are some key ingredients that you can add to your recipe to help create an optimal feedback form. One that will give you the insights you need to keep your customer experience positive.

Why Get Customer Feedback?

It’s all too easy to ask for feedback just because you can (it’s an ITSM tool capability) or because you think that it’s the “right thing to do,” i.e. because it’s what you’ve always done or because you want to blindly follow industry best practice. So before you even start to prepare your feedback form, you need to ask yourself “Why do we want the information and what will we do with the end results?” Sadly, I’ve seen far too many surveys sent out merely to hit customer satisfaction score targets rather than to analyze and act on the feedback given. 

So if you can’t immediately think of a good reason, then take a moment to ask yourself whether it’s the right time for your service desk to be seeking feedback in the first place.

Don’t Be the Boy Who Cried Wolf

There’s no shame in not pursuing feedback if you feel it’s premature and there’s certainly no shame in not pursuing feedback if you haven’t got any intention of doing anything with the information you’re given.

Your customers’ time is a valuable commodity, which they’re trading in return for an assumed improvement. So if you ask for their time and deliver nothing, you can rest assured they won’t be investing any more of their time in your surveys the next time you ask.

However, if you do have a plan to improve based on feedback, then take the time to share it with your customers before asking them for their help. Explain how their feedback will help you to shape the service you provide to them, and also how you will use the feedback to proactively improve that service.

To help improve the chances of getting end users and customers onboard, create a message that is concise and entirely about THEM. Let them know that this isn’t just an exercise in data gathering but rather a stepping stone towards improving THEIR service and consequently THEIR experience. 

Make Sure You’re Using the Right Tools for the Service Desk Job 

Not all feedback forms were born equal, nor should they be. The form that you use for an incident will be different from the form that you use for your annual satisfaction survey. It’s important that you take the time to make sure that the form you’re using is suitable for the situation and the type of feedback you are seeking.

For example, if someone has come through to the service desk and they’ve received an immediate fix within minutes, the last thing you want to do is then ask the customer to complete a survey that takes them longer to fill out than it took to get the resolution itself. All your surveys need to be easy to use and collect meaningful data, but when soliciting feedback for a quick fix you also need a survey that’s quick to fill out. So why offer up a three-course dinner when a snack will do?

Instead, consider a less traditional but more effective simple yes/no response or even a smiley or sad face emoticon similar to those you find at airport security. It’s perfectly designed to sit within the busy travelers’ (or in this case IT customers) experience. And by reducing the level of commitment needed, you’re breaking down the barriers to completion and will naturally see a dramatic increase in conversions. What’s more, the responses will be more useful as you’ve removed the choice of indifference; they’re either happy or unhappy and those who are unhappy you can follow up with personally to see where you went wrong.

Does this mean that there’s no place for long-form surveys? Absolutely not, it’s just a case of choosing the right tool to suit the situation. So, take for example an annual survey, you might want to consider a longer survey that goes to a more specific audience, maybe those whose teams are extremely reliant on the service desk or those who you don’t get a chance to regularly check in with. Either way, be sure that your survey is relevant to your end user and their experience with your service.

Remember to Check the Timing and Temperature

We’ve all done it – received poor service and then filled out a feedback form negatively to reflect our frustration, anger, or disappointment.

It’s human nature, customers are more likely to fill out your feedback form if they are either super-satisfied with your service, or the polar-opposite, super annoyed.

Biased customers filling out forms in the heat of the moment can skew your results and overall service response. Similarly, sending out three surveys after three incidents in one day will not achieve the full response rate required, and sending out a survey after a service outage, for example, will not give you a true view of your service.

Timing is crucial. Your customers will blow hot and cold depending on that particular moment in time. Don’t send out more than a single survey in a day and avoid sending them out in the aftermath of a major incident.

But This Opens Up a Can of Worms on the Collective Response “Accuracy”

Should feedback forms be sent out randomly or selectively? There are pros and cons to both approaches.

The randomly-selected “every nth incident or service request” approach is great statistically but it might mean that you hit the same individual repeatedly and they just stop responding. Selectively choosing who to send forms to is worse though, as most of us will either deliberately or subconsciously send forms to the end users we delight rather than those we feel we might have let down in terms of service.

Hopefully your IT service management (ITSM) or service desk tool allows you a compromise – send after every nth incident or service request BUT don’t send if the end user has already received a feedback form in the previous x days or weeks. So it’s still random in the main.

Customer apathy to feedback forms or any type of survey is a serious issue though – with sub-10% response rates often quoted. Raising the response rate to your feedback form, so that the sample is more representative of the population as a whole, is an improvement opportunity in itself. But do you currently look at, and care about, the response rate? If not, then ask yourself if you are just “going through the motions” when gauging customer satisfaction. Are you only interested in hitting, or beating, the customer satisfaction target or are you genuinely focused on improving service? 

Feedback on Feedback 

Post-receipt of feedback, take the time to thank your customer for their time and let them know what you’ve done or intend to do with their feedback. Transparency is key, so whether you’re going to investigate the issue further, or you’re simply going to add it to an ongoing-issues database to monitor the situation, be open and honest.  Always let them know what the next steps are, even when you know it’s not what they’ll necessarily want to hear.

Finally, it’s important not to forget that forms are not the only method that can be employed to gain customer feedback. You could also try focus groups, customer interviews, tracking customers’ behavior to understand how they interact with your service desk, and even end-user shadowing. But whatever you choose to gather your feedback, try taking these tips onboard.

So these were my tips for improving end-user or customer feedback forms and surveys. What do you do to improve how you gauge your service desk’s service?

If you want to read more on end-user feedback forms and surveys, I recommend the following blogs: 


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Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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