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Client Case Brief -- IT Industry
Situation Overview
Qualitative Research
GuideStar Professional Services
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A global Information Technology leader with a highly diversified enterprise-level product portfolio was ranked close to the bottom of its industry on customer satisfaction in most industry surveys and general business surveys.

At that time, a majority of this client's customers felt they were "being held hostage" to long term, expensive contracts for mission-critical products integrated into their IT systems that they could not do without and that they were not being treated with the respect and fairness they deserved. Customer loyalty was low. Most customers were resentful and many said they would change vendors if they could. Only a minority of customers said they were likely to recommend the company to others.

GuideStar was engaged to design and conduct a detailed baseline survey of customer attitudes in North America, followed by similar surveys worldwide to compare findings with the public surveys. GuideStar's findings confirmed the public surveys' results.

GuideStar as Strategic Research Partner
GuideStar was also engaged as a strategic research partner to analyze the root causes of the customer satisfaction survey findings and to develop both tactical and strategic recommendations for improving customer satisfaction and customer relationships over time.

The initial engagement evolved into an on-going, enterprise-wide research and consulting relationship with the client for over half a decade, including annual global customer surveys in a dozen languages in five world regions with a customer base of over fifty thousand customers, a continuous 24/7 survey program supporting 50 technical support call centers worldwide, a continuous 24/7 product satisfaction survey program, and an annual channel partner satisfaction survey. These were supplemented with ad hoc "pulse" research on specific customer relationship topics using focus groups and structured executive interviews.

During GuideStar's work with this client, direct data streams were received from the client's servers to our servers on more than 1,000,000 closed technical support issues. GuideStar helped the client develop invitation databases of their global corporate customers and partners. GuideStar now have on hand more than 100,000 returned surveys on the client's customer relationships alone.

Improvements in Customer Satisfaction and Customer Relationships
Verbatim comments from survey:

  • Company has worked hard to change how it works with customers over the last 5 years.
  • Company has changed the way they do business with a more customer focus approach.
  • Company has put their hearts and souls into this strategic partnership.
  • Company is making a sincere effort to win back those organizations that previously felt that Company was only working for money and not to retain customers.
  • Our attitudes toward Company have been improving over the past 3 years. Company listened to our needs and responded with solutions and pricing structures that both met our needs and provided a mutually beneficial agreement.

Notable improvements in levels of customer satisfaction have occurred over the span of years we have served this client. By applying a variety of analytic methods, GuideStar consultants were able to identify and clearly define the key drivers affecting customers' decisions and intentions towards the client. Among the analytic methods used were Path Modeling, Account Scorecards, Customers at Risk/Customers of Opportunity (CARCOP), Relationship Ladders, Deep DialogSM Audits and others.

These analyses provided a deep and clear understanding of the priorities which the client needed to address to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy among a large majority of customers, as well as elevating many customer relationships to constructive collaboration and partner levels.

All survey items have improved over time and a number are in or approaching the established goal range of 75-85% satisfaction. Over the span of time GuideStar has served this client, significant improvements, some as high as 30 and 35 percentage points, have been achieved in key customer ratings by applying GuideStar's Strategic Relationship Improvement Process.

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