When Begging for Customer Service Scores Hurts Customer Service
I complain a lot about bad service, but I'm all for recognizing outstanding customer service. I go out of my way to thank people directly for great service and often ask to speak to a manager to give positive comments. I remember the manager of an AT&T store who seemed extremely surprised (and happy!) to hear me telling him good things about one of his employees and how he had helped me.
Recently, I had a vehicle in to a dealer here in San Antonio for service. It's a vehicle that's out of warranty and, one day, the speedometer and other dashboard gauges stopped worked… then later that day started working. I scheduled an appointment and, of course, the problem didn't come back.
The dealer got me an appointment about two days later… asking me to wait until they had a loaner car available (which they provided for free – thanks!). They kept the vehicle for three days to run lots of tests and see if the problem would reoccur. It did not. Of course. Not the dealer's fault.
I came back to return the loaner and pick up our vehicle. The service advisor, who had done a great job of communicating and keeping me posted, verbally asked me something to the effect of:
“You'll get a survey, please make sure to fill that out with 100 scores for us.”
OK fair enough. Happy to do that. He waived the diagnostic charge, which I had expected to pay. I started to wonder if the advisor or the service department were sort of trying to buy good scores. I would have given “100” scores regardless.
“That's how I get to keep my job, those scores.”
Yikes. No pressure… on either of us. It made me wonder how much “get great scores or else!” pressure he was under from the service manager or the general manager. Was he really going to lose his job if he didn't get good scores this month?
I thought, well, the feedback must be important. So, I took a few minutes to send a message through the “Contact Us” form on the dealer's website. Within 20 minutes, I got three different emails trying to sell me a new vehicle (all sent out by automation, I'm sure) even though my email was only about praising the service advisor. Oops. I won't ding the service advisor for that (although I did have to beg the emailers to not spend time calling me the next day).
Then, the next morning, I got an email from the service advisor:
HOPE ALL IS WELL AND IF YOU NEED ME IM HERE.
I ASK NOW TO PLEASE HELP ME WITH MY SERVICE SURVEY. ITS HOW I GET TO STAY HERE. WHEN YOU CAN, ITS IN YOUR IN BOX OR JUNK MAIL NO.
ILL SEE NEXT SERVICE I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT REMINDER ALREADY. IF I NEED TO PLEASE TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO DO TO EARN MY 100.
I wouldn't dare give him a 90 for having a broken caps lock key. I gave him 100s on the survey… even though he emailed me twice more to remind me.
But, my feedback to the automaker would be to let people focus more on providing excellent service instead of worrying so much about scores… or even begging for scores. There's a certain point where it becomes off putting or annoying.
I'm sure the service advisor is intrinsically motivated to provide good service. I can tell he takes pride in his work. But, he seems scared to get a less-than-perfect score. If there were customer scores of 80 or 90, that should be used for improvement, not for punishment. What if there were systemic problems that were out of the control of my service advisor?
Time spent begging for better scores is time NOT spent:
- Providing great service
- Figuring out how to provide better service
I see similar things happen in both hotels and hospitals. Employees wear buttons that prompt you about how to answer the satisfaction surveys. There are signs in elevators. You're reminded at check in and check out (or registration and discharge)… “give us 9s and 10s,” you're told. There are consultants who will teach you what to say and how to say it… all pointed toward better SCORES.
I'd rather make things better. I'd rather provide better SERVICE than focusing on the scores. If you're a manager and the service scores are too low for your department or business, please send more time understanding WHY the scores are low instead of just imploring people to do better or merely demanding that they “get better scores.”
I always think… you want patients to say you give “excellent” service and care… then focus on providing excellent service and care! Don't guilt trip me or don't manipulate me… that makes me feel a bit worse about the service, when that's not the intent. Employees shouldn't be put in the position of begging for scores… help them provide the best service possible, instead.