Using Customer Surveys to Evaluate Service Delivery Performance

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Effective measurements are required to judge the success of any activity. The quality of support the DBA team provides should be reviewed on a regular basis. Customer surveys allow business and application development units to provide feedback on the quality and timeliness of DBA support activities. The survey also allows your customers to measure how well they feel you are meeting your internal Service Level Agreements.

As a remote services provider, we are judged daily on our ability to meet our external service level agreements. Our customers are a tough bunch, and we are OK with that. They have entrusted their most valuable corporate data assets to us. A responsibility we do NOT take lightly. Regularly scheduled surveys can also provide benefits to internal DBA units. You will never know how good of a job your team is doing until you ask.

Each group that you support has their own set of value drivers. You have to understand what they want. Database administrators have a highly visible role in every organization. You can take advantage of that role to be viewed as someone who is a key player. Someone who is focused on providing high-quality support to all internal customers. That and it makes your job easier when you know what your customers expect and the criteria they use to evaluate the services you provide.

Survey Tools

Searching the web will produce a wealth of products that can be used to create, distribute and process customer surveys. The costs range from free to expensive. Google provides a very robust survey product that allows you to generate the survey questions with check boxes, free-form input and the ability to generate charts and graphs based on customer feedback.

Survey Questions

It should be obvious that the set of survey questions sent to your customers will be critical to the success of the survey. The key is to use open-ended questions that foster candid and honest customer opinions. The questions must be phrased in a way that allows the service provider to generate the appropriate conclusions from customer responses. The number of questions should be kept to a minimum. If they’re not, many respondents will not take the time to complete the survey.

Keep the survey questions short. Phrase them to be to the point and in the shortest way possible. Each question should have a purpose. Review each question before distributing and determine how your unit will process the possible results that could be returned. If you are struggling with how you would process and/or respond to a survey response, review the question to determine if it is worded correctly. Leading the customer to respond one way or another should be avoided at all costs.

All of RDX’s questions have two parts. The first part is ranked by a numerical factor. This is followed by a free-form section that allows the customer to tell us why they assigned that ranking in their response.
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Since we support so many different customers, let me give you some examples of the questions that RDX asks its customers:

  • General Support - The intent of the first question is to obtain a general, high-level understanding of how we are doing.
  • Individual Support Teams – Many of our customers receive support from multiple product teams at RDX. It allows us to drill down into a specific team’s performance.
  • Responsiveness - Are we responding quickly enough to their requests? Do we complete tasks when they are needed?
  • What services does RDX excel at providing?
  • Which services can RDX improve?
  • Would you recommend RDX to another customer?
  • Current Issues – Does the customer have any current issues that need to be addressed?
  • Additional Information - What other questions should we be asking?

RDX’s standard is to respond to all surveys within 8 hours of receiving them. RDX will schedule follow up meetings and set deadlines for all action items. This is the most critical aspect of the survey. Quick followups and action items with deadlines tell your customers their concerns are important to your organization.

If you provide services to internal customers, here are a few sample questions to start you on your way:

  • How would you rate the turnaround times for DBA unit work requests?
  • How would you evaluate the DBA unit’s responsiveness to questions?
  • How would you evaluate the DBA unit’s responsiveness to requests for assistance?
  • Please rank the quality of communications the DBA unit provides.
  • Please rank the overall quality of work the DBA unit provides.
  • What are your top three technical challenges that you face?
  • What are the top three non-technical challenges?
  • Please list your current priorities. Rank them in order of importance.
  • List the most important services the DBA unit provides. Rank them in order of importance.
  • What support services does the DBA unit do a good job of providing?
  • What support services should the DBA unit improve?
  • What additional services would you like the DBA unit to provide?

As we learned in this blog, effective measurements are required to judge the success of any activity. The quality of support you provide needs to be reviewed on a regular basis. These questions allow your customers to provide you with important feedback on the quality of your support. You can then "tune and tweak" your services accordingly. Meetings can be held with your internal customers to discuss their reviews. DBA team members participating in the reviews must be prepared to respond to criticism in a professional manner.

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