This article orginally appeared on LinkedIn.
If you’ve recently bought a car, stayed at a hotel or purchased just about anything online, someone has probably asked you to fill out a survey rating his or her work. The employee may have requested a high score directly, or said something like the parting comment of the highly competent repairman who recently fixed my dishwasher pump: “You’ll be receiving a survey about my work. 10s are good.”
In the world of customer service, this is called survey begging, and if someone is begging you for a score, he doesn’t work for a company that is run very well. Begging is usually a symptom not of a rogue employee but of an ill-conceived system. It is the bosses who create the systems that produce this behavior. They can make it easy for employees to do the right thing, or the opposite. A company culture that fails to address gaming has a leadership issue.
The first mistake is linking frontline employees’ compensation to survey scores. This doesn’t just lead to undignified behavior from employees. It also takes the emphasis off learning and improving from customer feedback. That’s the whole point of the Net Promoter System, which weighs a company’s promoters (those giving 9s or 10s) against its detractors (6 and under). It should enhance customers’ experience and dignify employees.
Recently the Financial Times published a piece titled “Customer feedback: the mirror crack’d,” which points out that many companies are not doing a very good job utilizing NPS.
This can be fixed.
Start by getting the team focused on the real objective: enriching customer lives in an economically sustainable way. Use the NPS survey to help accelerate learning. Monitor real behaviors like referrals, repeat purchases and repeat calls to service centers, data that we call “signal NPS.” This information can help substantiate, correct or explain customer scores.
We all know when an employee or a company is truly trying to enrich our lives. It’s obvious. My dishwasher technician arrived early, worked quickly and answered my questions expertly and pleasantly. The machine’s disturbing grinding noise has stopped, and my dishes look great. In short, he provided very good customer service.
His employer would be smart to do away with the incentives that left him begging for the 10 he had already earned.