L-3 Communications’ STRATIS division has successfully served the Department of Defense, federal civilian government agencies and state and local governments with a broad range of IT services and solutions for over 30 years.
According to Jeremy Williams, Vice President of Quality Management at L-3 STRATIS, the division has been conducting customer satisfaction surveys for five years. It originated as a business development function, but has since become a critical management tool, he explained. “Each time we conduct a survey, Market Connections helps us evolve the focus and the questions to measure not just satisfaction, but also loyalty,” he said.
Combining of Qualitative and Quantitative Research for Richer Insights
Market Connections surveys L-3 STRATIS’ largest and strategic contracts, conducting about 120 interviews annually. STRATIS business units request interviews to be conducted anytime throughout the year in alignment with contract drivers like re-compete schedules, specific customer issues or constraints. The number of interviews per contract can range from a handful to 10 or more depending on the size and complexity of the contract.
Market Connections conducts the surveys via telephone using a questionnaire that contains both quantiative and qualitative questions. STRATIS’ customers can also choose to take an online survey instead of participating in the telephone interview. Closed-ended questions yield answers that provide hard numbers useful to benchmark and measure progress, while open-ended qualitative questions explore why and how. According to Williams, even though the sample size is relatively small, the quantitative data is still useful for trending over time. But, without a doubt, the customers’ qualitative comments provide the most valuable contract-specific insights.
Because L-3 STRATIS primarily sells services, their customers’ feedback naturally focuses on program management issues. “It’s not uncommon for us to be meeting the contractual obligations with a customer and still uncover relationship perception issues that need to be addressed,” Williams said.
A Key Component of a Larger Quality Program
L-3 STRATIS’ customer satisfaction/loyalty surveys are an important facet of a larger quality management system that also includes monthly performance discussions between program managers and their customers, monthly reporting data on contractually driven performance metrics, and annual employee satisfaction surveys by contract. All of this data is assimilated into contract profiles, which are heavily relied upon as strategic quality management tools.
Driving Continual Quality Enhancements
L-3 STRATIS’ customer satisfaction research findings give management an unfiltered understanding of how customers perceive their efforts on individual projects. In some cases the results validate their assumptions, and in others they reveal areas in need of improvements, such as resourcing, training, upper management attention and communications processes, to name a few.
The division also uses the research results as an employee incentive program. Equally important, management analyzes the combined data in the contract profiles to make predictive correlations and assumptions for future contracts and evolve future survey questions.
L-3 STRATIS’ robust quality management program including the customer satisfaction/loyalty research conducted by Market Connections is paying off. Departments and business units make strategic performance improvements based on facts rather than internal opinions. The corporate quality group monitors the progress. And the executive team has structured, measured visibility into potential concerns, progress and best practices. As a result, customer satisfaction and loyalty is consistently high.