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Monday, November 16, 2009

SEMI Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey Reflects Changing Member Needs and Industry Challenges

SEMI conducts an annual Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) that we use to help answer the questions, “how are we doing?” and “what are our member priorities?” This year’s survey revealed both good and bad news on our performance and important insights on our mission. We use the CSS for detailed planning and review discussions with our Board of Directors, regional advisory boards, and SEMI worldwide staff.

Despite the horrific recession, member satisfaction remained stable in 2009, but it is not at an acceptable level and metrics for “member loyalty” slipped during the year (see sample data below; click on slides for larger image).

On the plus side, members saw an improvement in SEMI performance for the year and rate satisfaction with SEMI staff very high. Another interesting outcome was the strong correlation between member satisfaction and staff contact (Surprise, the more we meet with members, the better they rate our performance) and product usage (come to our webinars, read a white paper or subscribe to our market stats and you’ll appreciate us more). Surprisingly, this year exposition or conference attendance and standards usage are not correlated with member satisfaction.

On a yearly basis, SEMI conducts a customer satisfaction survey to assess the association’s effectiveness in meeting member needs. Along with other Voice of the Customer programs-- including transactional surveys, customer service feedback, executive interviews and other research—the customer satisfaction survey provides essential feedback that ensures continuous improvement on SEMI product quality, services and member satisfaction.

This year, over 2000 responses to the survey were received from every region in the world giving the survey strong statistical significance. Key objectives of the study was to gain insights in SEMI operational performance, strategic priorities and determine drivers of SEMI satisfaction and priorities of improvement. In addition to evaluating our tactical performance on managing events, delivering market research and other areas (i.e. “how is SEMI doing”), the survey also asked members to provide input on current priorities and new initiatives (i.e. “what should SEMI be doing”).

Important findings of the research include:
--Overall satisfaction levels about remain the same this year, with two-thirds of respondents giving acceptable and above acceptable scores
--More than three-quarters of members perceive an improvement in SEMI performance
--Scores for employee performance are high, and improving from 2008. The increase is significant in North America and directional for the remaining regions.
--Overall satisfaction with SEMI is higher among those who have had contact with an employee or product in the past year
--Loyalty measures for SEMI show a slight decline, with a decline in the number of members that are highly loyal, and an increase in the number of those considered at-risk.
--Satisfaction with providing exhibits and conferences is lower this year, while scores for providing networking opportunities and solving industry-wide problems are improving.
--Seven new initiatives were also analyzed in 2009, and were each measured by their level of importance and satisfaction. Results show the following attributes as the most important to SEMI members: informing members of new market opportunities in LEDS, MEMS, printed electronics; advancing intellectual property protection; educating the industry on sustainability; helping members in the PV industry; and representing member interests in the 450mm wafer transition.

While satisfaction was stable and many other positive outcomes were evident, the survey confirmed many of the industry trends that are significantly impacting the association. As the industry becomes leaner, the importance of trade shows and conferences are declining. This trend has important financial impacts for the association, including the ability to fund other member services such as standards, advocacy, sustainability and other areas. Clearly, the challenge for the association is to sustain, if not improve, SEMI services in the face revenue challenges from the mature trade shows business.

With the industry in crisis, many of us were dreading the results of the survey. In the midst of the worst industry downturn in history, you don’t generally want to get into people’s faces and ask, “How are we doing?” But we were grateful for the results and the good feedback we received from many, many people.

Qualitative and Quantitative Input

As mentioned above, the member satisfaction survey is just of many feedback loops we use to ensure continuous improvement. Currently, we are engaged in a comprehensive program to meet and discuss the association’s changing role and member priorities with over 50 key members worldwide. This is in response to a Board mandate to solicit executive input to better understand long-range (2010 and beyond) association value proposition and planning considerations. Throughout October and November, every SEMI regional president is meeting with executives from a diverse group of members to better validate our mission and assess the association’s product and service priorities. Many of the outcomes of the annual survey and executive outreach effort are complimentary; survey’s provide statistical significance and is democratic. The one-on-one interviews get detailed insights into member needs and are better at revealing hidden, critical and new insights.

As a marketer, I am proud of the thoroughness and precision of our member satisfaction and continuous improvement process. It doesn’t solve all the problems or overcome complex, macro and historical challenges, but it is a very solid base to our decision-making.