The Widening Gap between Customer Satisfaction Perception and Reality | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Not surprisingly, every service provider claims to have exceptionally high customer satisfaction ratings from their enterprise clients. Yet, we see anti-incumbency rising and deal size dwindling.

To assess enterprises’ satisfaction levels in IT services engagements, we conducted a deep dive study of 30 service providers and 130+ of their clients. We largely focused our analysis lens on six vital parameters of service delivery – technical expertise, domain expertise, talent management, commercial models, client management, and strategic partnership.

Enterprise customers are dissatisfied with service providers

The results, presented in our recently published report entitled, “Customer (Dis)Satisfaction: Why Are Enterprises Unhappy with Their Service Providers?” were quite disturbing. They indicated that nearly 50 percent of IT service buyers are not satisfied with their providers, feeling that they fall short in many areas of service delivery.

enterprises not satisfied with service provders 1

We investigated the reasons behind the huge gap between buyer expectations and current service delivery and arrived at the following insights:

  1. Early-stage differentiating factors have become table stakes: The value propositions of labor arbitrage and low-cost delivery are no longer compelling. Instead, enterprises want service providers that can create a positive impact on their core business functions.
  2. Inability to meet the unspoken demands of customers: Enterprises expect their service providers to have evolved from “order takers” to “collaborators” capable of effectively partnering with them in strategic decision making. They want their providers to go beyond the project ask and demonstrate transformative skills, even though such expectations are largely unspoken.
  3. Limited understanding of clients’ businesses narrows down business opportunities: Visibility into enterprises’ business dynamics and priorities are critical for service providers to align their offerings and strategy to client needs. Yet their margin obsession and hesitation to make new technology investments have precluded them from taking a futuristic approach to IT engagements.enterprises not satisfied with service providers 2

How service providers can turn the tide

So how can service providers turn the tide to have a more positive impact on existing and future engagements? Here are Everest Group’s top three recommendations.

  1. Shift from an operational to a strategic mindset: Service providers need to go the extra mile to proactively identify enterprises’ business drivers and must develop capabilities to offer innovative solutions. Just delivering on the agreed upon SLAs does not elevate service providers to the level of service partners.
  2. Innovative engagement: With rising competition, it is imperative that service providers walk the talk. While they cannot avoid investing in new technologies, they can share the adoption risk with their enterprise clients. Newer engagement models like outcome-based, risk-reward sharing, and output-based give enterprises the necessary confidence to take the leap and engage service providers for a next generation technology adoption initiative.
  3. Invest. Automate. Improve: Two-thirds of the enterprises are gearing up for large scale process digitalization, and they expect their service providers to be able to technologically support their objectives. Service providers must strategically invest in automation to improve efficiency, reduce costs, enable faster time-to-market, and deliver process improvements in order to offer a compelling solution.enterprises not satisfied with service providers 3

With anti-incumbency risks, anti-offshoring rhetoric, and clients’ propensity to adopt a digital arbitrage model looming large, service providers cannot afford to lose customer confidence. They must, today, start looking through a clearer lens to evaluate where their relationships with their enterprise clients stand.

For details on the areas in which service providers must smooth their rough edges, polish their existing skills, and develop new skill sets, please read our report, “Customer (Dis)Satisfaction: Why Are Enterprises Unhappy with Their Service Providers?

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