Study: Interactive Services Firms Lag in Client Satisfaction

A study of customer satisfaction with the work of interactive services firms says that one in three companies has ended Internet projects because of poor job performance.

The study, entitled the 1999 National Benchmark Study of Client Satisfaction with Interactive Services Firms, was conducted by Dallas-based People Design Technology, an independent, research-based consulting firm.

More than 400 decision makers representing a cross section of U.S. companies participated in the survey. Sixty percent of the respondents said they have used interactive services firms in the past 12 months, while 40 percent have not.

“One of the biggest dilemmas for companies that hire interactive services firms is measuring their results,” said Lee Wright, founding principal of People Design Technology. “Client satisfaction is rarely easy to quantify. This survey successfully takes the client’s key concerns and transforms them into measurable metrics to help track the success of Internet projects.”

Key findings of the study:

  • 35 percent of respondents have stopped using an interactive services firm prior to project completion because they were not satisfied with the quality of the work
  • Of firms dropping an interactive services firm, 51 percent cited poor project management as the primary reason; other causes were: poor technical knowledge/expertise, poor quality of work, failure to deliver product, did not follow client instructions and personnel difficulties
  • 19 percent of companies have never gone outside for interactive services work and have no plans to do so in the next 12 months
  • Only 17 percent of companies have a formal process for selection of interactive service firms and those with a process are more satisfied with their firm’s performance than those that have no process
  • Companies ranked technology expertise and project management as the most important criteria in selecting interactive services firms. Ownership by the client’s current ad agency or systems integration firm was ranked the lowest.

The survey also indicated that goals are shifting from brand building and awareness building to increasing revenue and market share. While 24 percent of the respondents said that their present goal is to build awareness, only seven percent said that this is a long-term goal. Thirty-six percent of the respondents said increasing revenue is their main long-term goal.

“As the Internet exploded into the daily business world, many companies established a Web presence basically for the sake of having one,” said Wright. “However, senior management now is looking to their Web implementation teams to develop a path to profitability, and they are using the same indices to measure success they use to run the rest of their business.”

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