Are Yearly IT Surveys useless?

Just like 2020, Yearly IT Surveys are something to be forgotten. They do not give you the valuable real-time Experience Data, that you can use at every step of developing your IT Service Experience.

You wouldn't measure your customer experience only once a year, so why do it with your employees?

Are Yearly IT Surveys useless?
Since early-2020, we have already completely overturned the way we live, work, move, and socialise. If anything though, 2020 has shown us how much our experiences can change over the course of a year. 
 
The same applies to the experiences of Enterprise IT end-users. End-users may have many different interactions with IT on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. A year is a long time, so how useful or accurate can a once-a-year IT survey be for understanding constantly evolving end-user experiences, in real-time? 
 

Yearly IT Surveys: High effort and low reward

 
If your goal is to truly understand your end-users’ experiences and make data-driven improvements in real-time, I would say forget about sending Yearly IT Surveys. 
 
Why? 
 
Hear me out:
 
  1. Yearly surveys are at best a vanity metric
You may look at your survey results once a year and think that your IT organization is doing alright overall. You might even get roughly the same results year on year, and not learn much about how and where to improve. 
 
These yearly results do not capture what actually happened throughout the year in thousands of IT interactions. Did people have positive or negative experiences? With which channels or touchpoints? For what reason(s)? None of these nuances show up in a yearly survey.
 
  1. Yearly surveys provide too slow feedback for continuous service improvement
In today’s fast-moving business environment, waiting a year for end-user feedback is simply too long. You are probably taking development actions in IT throughout the year, such as upgrading your tools or changing your service providers. By only sending a yearly survey, you miss the opportunity to get immediate feedback about the impact of those changes on end-user happiness and productivity. 
 
To get the data you need to continuously improve IT, you have to measure end-user experience in real-time, and definitely more than once a year. Let me just say this; You wouldn't measure your customer experience only once a year, so why do it with your employees?
 
  1. For your end-users (the employees), yearly surveys take too much effort
Have you tried filling in one of those surveys that go on page after page? Halfway through, you just want to get it over with, and start putting less thought into your answers. Your end-users might be going through this survey fatigue with yearly IT surveys. Instead of sending every end-user a long list of questions at an arbitrary time once a year, asking only the most relevant questions at the right time makes it easier for end-users to give constructive feedback. 
 
Imagine for example, that an employee created an IT incident ticket yesterday and it was resolved today. Would it be easier for the employee to answer a few specific questions about the incident immediately after the ticket resolution, or 20 different questions eight months from now about support services, devices, applications, etc all together?
 
  1. Yearly surveys get low response rates
Many busy employees do not fill in yearly surveys, because they know it takes so much effort and time. Maybe 5% or 10% do, if you’re lucky. But with such low response volumes, the data cannot be trusted and does not lead to actionable directions for improvement.
 
  1. Yearly surveys are too costly
For some of our customers, engaging with an external vendor to implement their old yearly surveys had cost over 100,000€. Does that sound like a lot of money for just a vanity metric, that is too slow, gets too few responses, and tells little about how end-users are actually experiencing IT on a daily basis? It is! 
 
 

Forget about Yearly IT Surveys, embrace Continuous Experience Management

 
 
Stopping Yearly IT Surveys is the first step towards creating a culture of Continuous Experience Management. At HappySignals, we think of this as a continuous cycle of four steps – Measure, Share, Identify, Improve – which are key for excellent IT Service Management. 
 
Measure end-user experience in real time, to know what IT experiences your employees are having already today, not a year later. 
 
Share the Experience Data with your colleagues, partners, vendors and other business stakeholders, so everyone is always on the same page about how IT is doing. 
 
With this shared view of end-user experience, Identify the specific areas of IT that need improvement, eliminating gut feeling and enabling data-driven decision-making. 
 
That’s all you need to Improve end-user happiness and productivity – continuously, not just once a year.
 
 

Continuous Experience Data helps you and your stakeholders to find areas for improvement to focus on

 
When real-time IT Experience Data is made accessible and understandable to everyone from the CIO to internal IT teams and external Service Agents, they can each find a focus for how and where to improve. For the CIO, this provides the data to back up decisions about strategy and resource allocation. For Service Agents, they get direct feedback from end-users about how they can serve them better. 
 
Whatever each person’s role is, having a common view of the same data in real-time creates alignment across your IT organization, both internally and externally.
 
Do you use Yearly IT Surveys? Have you, like me, started to notice some of its weaknesses? I talk more and exchange stories about this topic with my Co-founder Pasi Nikkanen in the second episode of 'Happy in 15'. Watch it here.
 
 
Find out more about Experience Management and Experience Level Agreements in our Practical Guide to XLAs.
 
If you enjoyed this content, be sure to subscribe to Happy in 15 and never miss an episode. If you prefer to read than watch, stay tuned for more blog posts like this one!
 
Looking for something even more bite-sized? Check out our recently released Learning Center, where we cover everything from XLAs to optimizing your ServiceNow.
 

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