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
, 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

“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

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

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