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Before placing trust in Customer Satisfaction ratings – consider the source!

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How often have you seen trophies, plaques, and crystal featured in advertising as evidence that a product or service has received the “highest ranking” by the survey company? If you are channel or web surfing your haste might benefit the advertiser. Associating the award with the brand triggers a quick mental linkage between the two as you log a positive impression in your memory banks and move to the next channel.

If you pop the hood and investigate how these rankings are assembled, you’ll know why Gen Y (Millennial) consumers rely increasingly on recommendations received through social networking sites as well as word-of-mouth from friends and family.

The flaw in the system could not have been more clearly stated than in the sign next to where I was swiping my debit card to pay for car repairs at a local dealer.

“Did you know that a score of 9 or less is a failure? Please grade us “10” or tell us why you can’t.”

I paraphrased this a bit, but imagine if this customer satisfaction rating system were applied to kids in school or “us” at work. Try telling your child that anything less than an “A” is a failure and see how motivated they will be to climb that mountain. Or, imagine that the annual employee performance evaluation allowed raises only for those scoring a perfect 10 across the matrix of KPI’s (Key performance indicators) outlined by the boss.

Insisting on delivering a perfect 10 does nothing but dilute the scoring system itself. There are few customer experiences which are perfectly executed and there should be nothing wrong with being graded less than 10, especially if comments are provided to help interpret the score.

The proactive management of customer satisfaction scores continues “after the sale”. Every time I take my VW to the shop, I receive a phone call asking me to participate in a “short survey about my experience”. The first call comes within 3 days of my visit and the firm will continue to call every other day or so for up to 2 two weeks until I speak with them. Even though they tell me that participation is voluntary, it clearly is not, for they will chase me down like a hound-dog on a good scent trail.

Vladimir Putin might approve of this methodology. Consumers WILL participate in surveys and they WILL give us a rating of 10. Flip this around and imagine how the conversation goes between the sales rep from the survey company and a large auto dealer. Does the supplier go beyond assurances that they will manage the process and seek high participation levels, making promises to deliver the highest scores ever? Do they bring a catalog of award trophies to that sales meeting, encouraging the client to choose the one they will advertise before the campaign even kicks off?

Much has been written about how we have raised an entire generation of young people on participation trophies and certificates in fear of hurting someone’s feelings. We can argue that elsewhere, but I do not believe this approach helps consumers make better decisions about spending their hard earned money.

The appeal of recommendations made in social networking sites is the focus on content and not integers. I may not know the difference between a 9 and 10, but I can learn a bunch from reading a description of a post-sale service experience from another VW owner.

Marketers would be better served to change the game before their customers stop reading their survey results. Making the process more transparent will encourage more subjective input from customers. Don’t be afraid to learn what your customers really think about you. If you can’t stand this idea and stick with the old system, dissatisfied customers will leave anyway. I think anything less a 10 has the sound of a slamming door as they go across the street! …………. Bill Hanifin

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Customer Experience

Loyalty Truth named among Top 50 Customer Retention Blogs

Loyalty Truth named among Top 50 Customer Retention Blogs

NG Data, a customer experience management solutions company, recently announced its list of must-read blogs covering strategies and tactics for customer loyalty, customer experience, and customer retention. We’re pleased to announce [...]

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