The importance of customer satisfaction surveys – part two:
If you have read last week’s blog where I outlined the benefits of customer satisfaction, you will have some idea by now why a satisfaction survey is such a critical part of the customer interface toolkit, in our industry or any other. To reiterate, a survey – properly conducted and with its results analysed and acted upon – represents the perfect way to distill the information that is vital to the ongoing survival and focused growth of any business, and especially to companies offering PLM solutions.
This is not to devalue surveys undertaken by individual companies, but these will by definition always be their own efforts intended to capture feedback from one particular subset of a huge customer base. The WhichPLM realise that we are in the unique position of being able to do something a little different.
As an independent and impartial provider of information for PLM customer and prospects we serve, we have decided to conduct the first truly independent PLM / PDM customer satisfaction survey on a grand scale. Our aim is to provide a voice for our customers and not to second guess the results of more focused surveys but to identify the issues, challenges, broader trends and to identify avenues of development not just for specific companies or particular types of customer, but for the industry as a whole.
The survey will be starting this month and continuing through April. I hope to address some of the immediate questions you might have below, but you should feel free to contact me or a member of the team if you’d like more detailed information.
• How is the survey run? The survey consists of a series of questions with a wide remit; we aim to discover in detail which aspects of the available PLM solutions customers particularly like or dislike (and why), and we will then analyse that information carefully to produce guidelines and trend analyses to suggest improvements in the ways that suppliers might develop and support their solutions in the future.
• How much detail does it go into? We make no excuses for the exhaustive detail the survey questions are designed to extract, and we expect that it could take upwards of 45 minutes for participants to complete. We consider this level of detail to be critical in obtaining data of the quality and quantity, and we believe that more farther-reaching and more incisive questions will prompt deeper and more considered responses, allowing us to better analyse the results and provide more insightful and considered findings to all our readers, suppliers and customers both.
• How often will it be run? We have not settled on a concrete schedule as yet, but we consider twice yearly to be often enough to glean the most important information without duplicating work, and not so often that any findings will be redundant. A bi-annual schedule is designed to coincide with the timescales within which most PDM/PLM providers generally release a major new version and a large software update. Of critical importance is that we capture information over a cross-section of seasonal events and the many other fluctuations in trends that occur every year. However, the most important facet of any customer satisfaction survey is that the results are shared with the people able to make real and informed changes (in this case PLM suppliers) and we believe that gathering data in six-month increments will give an accurate reflection of how well these changes have been implemented and received.
• What do we do with the information? Firstly, every participant will receive a copy of a detailed report analysing the findings and the methods of the survey. In particular we will focus on emerging trends to share with our readership as a whole. We will break the collated information down to look variables such as regional differences and areas in which different PDM/PLM suppliers were notable for any reason. We will share our eventual report with the range of PLM suppliers we know, each of whom will be invited to examine the specific findings as relate to them with a view to improving their solution in the ways that matter the most to you, the customer. We understand that not all feedback will be comprised of suggestions for improvement, so we will let the supplier know what it is that you like most about their solutions, not just the areas in which they could do better.
I look forward to your support and we welcome any additional input either now, during or after the survey. If you’d like to be heard, then we hope to hear from you!
Please feel free to share your experience in assessing and selecting a PLM solution. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to your feedback.
Mark Harrop is a leading Apparel PLM expert with more than 34 years experience in the industry. Mark co-founded the Product Development Partnership Ltd, the team of experts behind WhichPLM.