Why Contract Evaluation Research Is a Key Investment - (Archived)

customer evaluation research help client relationshipsIn the 2016 Federal Government Contractors Study, 68% of respondents with win rates above 50% said their teams were good/excellent with government customer relationship management. That number is significantly higher than the 36% of respondents with win rates less than 50% who rated themselves similarly.

With the ever-growing importance of customer experience in the federal market, relationships are paramount. That means efforts to foster customer relationships are well worth the investment. These efforts include conducting research to learn customer preferences, needs and requirements.

That makes customer experience and contract evaluation research a powerful tool.

One of our IT services firm clients with a number of federal customers provides a good example of this. This company is successfully using customer satisfaction research to nurture relationships and foster continuous improvement internally.

It’s a small business, and the CEO understands their reputation is their most valuable asset. The culture is centered on the belief that happy employees lead to engaged customers —and that will lead to contract retention and more new contract wins.

The company had always measured employee satisfaction but had never conducted contract evaluation research. But then a few situations arose that the CEO knew needed to be addressed. He believed gathering unbiased feedback was necessary to identifying the real issues.

He could have waited for the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS), but due to the loose deadlines, he determined the feedback would come too late. He wanted current information that the company could act on immediately.

Using a Third-Party Research Firm

The company weighed the pros and cons of performing the research internally versus using a third-party research firm. But he quickly realized he couldn’t call the clients because they knew him, and liked him. He understood he would not get honest feedback. He looked into the value of third-party research and realized the fact that no inherent bias would creep into the data was crucial. He also wanted industry-specific benchmark data to provide a basis for understanding the results.

At the time, he knew getting benchmark data was a good idea, but it wasn’t until he had the report that he realized just how valuable and important the benchmark data is. It provides a baseline to interpret scores; without that context, you don’t know what to do with the information you gather.

The Outcome

The research uncovered the causes of the issues that prompted the research, and the program managers were able to address them. However, it didn’t end there. The detailed comments the customers supplied were a pleasant surprise, and those insights gave the company a tremendous amount of actionable data.

But the real benefit of the research was learning there were some areas where they were underperforming, and others where the clients rated them higher than they expected. This feedback helped on their quest for continuous improvement. Since they have limited dollars and resources, the research helped prioritize where to make changes. Fortunately, they did not need to make any changes in their services. Rather, they needed to enhance what they were already doing.

In addition to that, the research was the catalyst for open conversations with their customers—and that has strengthened their relationships.

Learn more about contract evaluation research and how it can help your company.

Webinar: Best Practices in Retaining Customers and Contracts

Laurie Morrow, Market Connections’ Vice President of Research Strategy, has led dozens of customer experience projects for federal contractors. On Tuesday, December 13 she will share best practices in customer experience research, and how to leverage results to ensure business growth. In this webinar, you will learn:

  • Why customer experience research is important
  • Pitfalls and best practices
  • How to leverage results

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

11:30 a.m. EST
Duration: 30 minutes

Register for the webinar.

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