No matter how many people are content or reasonably happy with the service they receive, it doesn’t matter when some companies analyze their customer service surveys. As a former Borders manager told us earlier this week, the only scores that matter are the very highest. We shared a note on the box from a local Pizza Hut begging customers for “5 out of 5” responses. Why is it that these are the only answers that count?
There is logic to the big bosses’ priorities. It’s nice to have customers that don’t actively hate you, and nicer still to have customers who are pleased but not overly enthusiastic. What they really want to know, though, is how many customers are so pleased that they will recommend your establishment to others.
Another reader, who works higher up the food chain at a different retailer, wrote in to explain how this all works.
Our surveys work on a Net Promoter Score. It’s a scale of 1-10, with 1-5 counting as a detractor (customer is likely to speak negatively about the company), 6-8 as a neutral (customer is not likely to have strong feelings in either direction), and 9-10 are promoters (customer is likely to speak positively about the company). There is also a goal for a store to get at least 2% of customers to take the survey, because that is supposed to be the magic number to get a realistic view of the store’s actual customer service.
I can understand where the Borders employee is coming from, but I don’t think the survey is necessarily as unfair as she makes it seem. Having worked with this survey system for [several] years, I can say I have figured out the key to driving customers to give the best possible ratings: Don’t ask them to rate the store or the company. Ask them to rate YOU.
If the question is, “how likely are you to recommend retail store to family or friends?” a customer is more likely to answer a 9 or 10 (or in her case a 5) if you’ve asked the customer to rate their experience YOU personally gave them. Don’t ask them to rate the company or the specific store location.
Asking the customer to rate the company or store gives the customer too many variables that are beyond your control. They could rate low based on the available parking, the company’s reputation, the fact that their friends don’t read books, or even that they don’t have friends that live in close proximity to the store.
You can even tell the customer the specific feedback you want to hear by saying, “please take my survey and tell my boss I was fast and helpful today!”
The point is that having a defeated attitude about the survey will probably be perceived by the customer and you’re more likely to drive them to give you a low score anyway. Don’t look at the best score as something impossible to achieve. Give the customer +1 service and they WILL give you a good score. If I purchased a book and got a survey along with “give me a 5 or don’t bother,” I’d probably give you a 1 just for having a bad attitude.