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How Not To Measure Customer Satisfaction

I recently took my wife’s mobile phone in for servicing. At the service center, the waiting room was packed with people, but like a well-designed ant farm, there seemed to be a method to the madness.  A well-groomed clerk handed out numbers to waiting customers and the lines seemed to be moving. The newly-designed service center was decked out with a slick showroom, showcasing the newest phones and other products.

I recently took my wife’s mobile phone in for servicing. At the service center, the waiting room was packed with people, but like a well-designed ant farm, there seemed to be a method to the madness.  A well-groomed clerk handed out numbers to waiting customers and the lines seemed to be moving. The newly-designed service center was decked out with a slick showroom, showcasing the newest phones and other products.  Some lucky marketing consultant had certainly made a killing on this facility.

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I waited about 20 minutes in line, when I was received by a smiling young man who seemed more than overjoyed to help me. I emptied the contents of the bag I brought with me on to the counter. My wife’s phone was in several pieces, the result of an unlucky drop.  My smiling service man took it all in stride, I am sure he had already seen several similar cases the same day.  It took him about 10 minutes to figure out the best way to repair it (without me getting locked in to another two year contract).

 

So far, there was nothing unusual about the service call. – not even the guy standing next to me, screaming about what a lousy phone he had, how sorry he was he ever started service with this company, etc. etc..  As an aside, there seems to be a lot of these folk out there. Regardless of the mobile provider (I currently work with 4 different providers), I have had the same experience with everyone I have ever worked with.

 

What was unusual was the following – just as I was about to walk away from the counter, my smiling companion asked me how I would rate the service he gave me, on a scale of “1 to 10,” with “1” being terrible and “10” being superb. Now, I thought this was odd. Is this how the company wanted to gauge customer satisfaction? It took me a minute to recover, but I finally said, “8.” To which the now “not-so-smiling” young man, said, “But I gave you an extra battery on your warranty and I added in a new back cover?”  Feeling ungrateful, I said, “OK, 10” – upon which he wrote a big red 10 on the service record and circled it. No, I have no idea whether a new back cover or the battery is actually covered in the warranty or not. Should I have been grateful?  What I do know is that I have to go back in several hours to pick up my phone. Do I really want to “tick off” the clerk so my phone is not ready on time? 

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This process is either the process of some sloppy setup, or more likely, the company service folks are just trying rig the numbers. How could they really be interested in what customers think when they collect data this way?

 

In contrast, my garage uses a much better method. On the morning following a visit to the garage, I get a call from someone with whom I did not interact with during my visit. The cheery young lady (usually) asks me a series of questions about my experience at the garage. On the rare occasion where I did have some issue, I always got a call from one of the managers on the same day to “make it right.”

 

Customer surveys, telephone follow ups, even comment cards are all good ways to get honest feedback. To have the person who gave you service badger you in to giving high marks for services, is a royal waste of time and effort…..

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I wish I would have hung around long enough to hear what my screaming neighbor thought about the service when they wouldn’t do anything to fix his broken phone.  Other than lock him in to another service contract…that he is dying to get out of.  I would guess that they wouldn’t ask him, or pass off his “0” off as an “outlier”….

 

My advice – if you aren’t interested in knowing how you are really serving your customers, don’t ask. If you are interested, give them a chance to answer honestly.  Fishing for a perfect score creates false responses, and probably angers your “perhaps” satisfied customers…

About the author

A technology strategist for an enterprise software company in the collaboration and social business space. I am particularly interested in studying how people, organizations, and technology interact, with a focus on why particular technologies are successfully adopted while others fail in their mission.

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