Over the last nine years or so of Consumerist, we’ve chronicled the tragic decline of Sears, an American institution. This has happened under the leadership of manifesto-writing hedge fund manager/CEO/intra-company deathmatch impresario Eddie Lampert. Shoppers’ biggest complaint: profound dysfunction and incompetence in stores. A manager at Sears slipped Consumerist a bit of information that people locked in a customer service battle with Sears might find useful.
Update: Check out the bottom of this post to read a statement from Sears. While the company’s customer service at all levels might seem consumer-unfriendly and confusing, our tipster tells us that there is one surefire way to get your local store’s attention: give them a bad survey grade. You will need a receipt number, but simply surf over to the brief and easy survey at shopsearsfeedback.com.
The secret regarding this survey is it counts for a whopping 30% of the store’s overall quarterly and yearly scorecard, which affects the management team’s bonuses and their overall ranking within the company. I cannot stress how important this is to Sears and the affected stores that receive a low feedback score on this survey site.
Once a low feedback score is submitted (a 5 or lower out of 10), an email notification is immediately sent to the Store Manager, District Manager, and VP in charge of customer service notifying them of the subpar score. Once this notification is completed, the feedback is entered in a case management system where it must be assigned to the manager of the impacted employee for follow up and resolution.
Our tipster tells us that while Sears does have executive customer service staff and people higher up who can help customers, there is no way to track these transactions in the system and hold the store accountable. including the manager and employees involved in your issue.
We checked with Sears to find out whether this is true, and are waiting to hear back…but they may not be willing to admit it if this is, indeed, the only way to coax good customer service out of their organization.
“If you want to get a service issue or purchase taken care of at Sears, use the feedback form…only then will anyone take it seriously because it actually affects their bonus payout,” our tipster summed up. This information is somehow both demoralizing and useful.
UPDATE: After we published this post, Sears followed up with us about the mystical power of this survey. The one-sentence version: Sears values any and all feedback, but the company says that they don’t calculate bonuses based on the results of customer satisfaction surveys.
Here’s their full statement:
Our feedback processes are a key component of how we are able to enhance member service. We encourage our members and customers to provide feedback on each experience and these processes are woven into every touchpoint we have with them – be it in-store, online, in-home, or on the phone. In fact, embracing feedback is a cornerstone of Sears Holdings’ member-centric culture.
Every member is given the opportunity to provide feedback about every Sears and Kmart store experience through a short survey. Our members use this channel to tell us about their positive experiences as well as where we need to improve. As part of this process, our members may request to be contacted regarding their recent experience. In doing so, the system immediately alerts store managers and leaders about the issue so that those who can take action quickly are able to assist our members. Please note that contrary to your article, there are no existing bonus programs for our associates that are tied to member feedback; this includes the store surveys.
Each day we receive thousands of pieces of member feedback that is critical to how we can enhance their experience. It doesn’t stop there as this feedback is analyzed for trends and used to help prioritize our training, process improvement and other key initiatives. Identifying, embracing and taking action on this feedback is all part of the open and transparent culture we have at Sears Holdings.
We wrote back for clarification to make sure that there isn’t some kind of incentive program for managers that takes customer feedback into account. “Eligible store and regional managers can participate in the company’s Annual Incentive Plan,” a Sears spokesman told Consumerist. “It is not tied to member feedback.”