10 Sep Saintly Customer Service in a Survey World
I called AAA to get a car towed last month, the subcontractor who moved the car was fantastic – everything that I could possibly want in a tow-truck driver on what was (obviously) a bad day. After he had backed the car into my narrow driveway, a fete that almost defied the laws of physics, he gave me a pained expression digging his toe into the ground. Embarrassed, but desperate, he explained that it was likely I would be asked for a customer satisfaction feedback survey and IF I was happy with him, could I please say that I was ‘completely satisfied’? It was just that he kept getting responses that were not perfect – he was really worried.
Before his prompt, I would have been willing to attest his first miracle for sainthood:
- The day was hellish hot
He showed up quickly
Location: Hollywood, CA
Car into driveway (not a scratch)
He de-escalated a scared situation into calm safety
100% Feedback Hell
Companies Desperate for Perfect Feedback
Very Satisfied Vs. Completely SatisfieD
Not even inside my home yet, and my phone rang – it was his manager. He too wanted to explain the customer satisfaction feedback survey ranking system and that ‘Very Satisfied’ and ‘Completely Satisfied’ are different. Would I please give them a positive review of ‘Completely Satisfied’ because ‘Very Satisfied’ was a negative rating?”
As an empathetic person, the palpable worry of these two people was distressing. As a customer service professional, I understood exactly what was going on and neither of them were at fault. It was a system that only understands metrics in precise ways. Those aren’t the ways that normal people talk, nor think about customer service because normal people just want to get on with their day.
Continuous Improvement of Customer Service Stays Ahead of Changing Expectations.
Most people don’t take surveys – if they did – we wouldn’t have companies like Surveymonkey, and Nicereply writing blogs about improving a 2% response rate. If you had customers that understood the various sticks and carrots involved in customer service the 3-4 star review with comments like ‘Love them, they are the best!’, would not coexist in this 5 star world. Worse yet, you wouldn’t have someone’s own mother give them a 90% out of 100% as “She believed that everybody can improve, including her son” not understanding that less than a 100% score could tip him into unemployment.
Surveys are Flawed?
If only 2% of customers are responding to customer satisfaction feedback surveys, then 98% are unknown. A better system analyses 100% of customer experiences.
If people are afraid of being fired because of tiny infractions, then they will work around those infractions in such a way that it undermines the entire system. Then instead of how can I do better tomorrow, they ask: how can they game the now? As Enrique Dans wrote this week, “…the problem of the corruption of social systems on the web is, for me as a researcher, fascinating: as soon as a social-based metric, be it ratings, likes, favorites, followers or any other, acquires a certain popularity, schemes aimed at obtaining a profit by falsifying and distorting it automatically appear.”
I’ve been asked ‘How do we prevent agents from gaming a system that scores agents providing in-the-moment feedback?’ My answer is you don’t. You also don’t have two grown men who sound like they’re going to cry asking for a perfect customer satisfaction feedback survey with precise words. Neither of these men entered into their professions to talk to people like that, nor should they have to. My tow truck driver was amazing, he was also painfully shy in a competent, endearing, calm manner – kind of like my grandpa (let’s talk saints). My tow truck driver did not bring caviar nor did he bring a puppy, both of which might have improved the experience had the day not been over 100 degrees so there is obvious room for improvement: he should have been able to control the weather.
I asked one of AAA’s oldest customers, aka Mama (my grandma), what she thought of them. “They were good, I liked them very much”. I asked if she was ‘very satisfied’, or ‘completely satisfied’? “I just told you I liked them very much – I only think of ‘em when I need ‘em”. Her review could have made my tow truck driver cry – but should it? Because Good, Very Good and Completely Satisfied all mean the same thing to her and she’s been with AAA for 60 years. (You read that right, she has been with them since 1960 and who am I calling old – she’s only 95.)
IF some people grade on an ‘EVERYONE CAN DO Better’ curve but most people don’t care enough to answer, then those customers aren’t representative. IF in trying to get a nuanced analysis of your agents you end up alienating your customers you become a problem. The goals of a modern company should be inclusive of a positive, supportive employee experience.
Grading every interaction on equitable grounds that are scalable leads to fairness. I know Mama wouldn’t be with a company for 60 years if she thought they made their workers cry and in all honesty, a contractor is an employee as far as an average customer is concerned.
This isn’t the way customer service should be, and the fact that we let it get here is ridiculous.
How We Make Things Better:
Years of behavioral sciences have taught us that in training people you reward the positive. If you punish for minor infractions, people will act out of fear… This will trickle down to your customers who will eventually feel that fear, seriously, my empathy is not unique. Positive training methods yield long term results. (Hasn’t everyone watched Karate Kid / Cobra Kai? Where would you rather train Miyagi Do or Cobra Kai?) People learn to flinch, they can also unlearn it.
Remove anxiety from experiences. Reward the positive. Agents providing service to your customers with a genuine smile can create long term loyalty.
Gaming the Service Not the Survey
My Mama will reward a smile with a smile, and I as her granddaughter still do the same. I want people that I’m interacting with to have two things, competence in what they’re doing and a general disposition of well-being. Customer Service Satisfaction Surveys making grown, exemplary employees near tears turns your customers off on an otherwise perfect engagement.
HONEST FEEDBACK - NO BEGGING REQUIRED
What companies want to know from their customer satisfaction feedback surveys are how the customer feels about the service. This means that if you want HONEST FEEDBACK then customers can’t think that their 4 star review will get a person fired. CSAT.AI is an easy fix for this type of situation in contact centers. Instead of surveys, CSAT.AI for CX and QA monitors 100% of agent interactions. Agents, and their management can know how they’re scored, based on both customer sentiment of that interaction AND analysis of the agent’s responses in comparison to millions of other interactions. Agents compete with themselves to consistently improve. They don’t have to beg customers for a perfect review, nor teach them the difference between ‘very satisfied’ and ‘completely satisfied’.
I’m glad I tipped the tow-truck driver well, as while I was on the phone with the manager an unknown caller went to voicemail – I think that was the survey. AAA may never know about that contractor’s competence hopefully, neither man cried.