I was recently making a purchase and the salesperson told me that I would be getting a follow-up email asking for feedback on my experience. He told me that he would really appreciate if I could rate him ‘10’ on all items (out of 10). He told me that anything less than a 10 is seen as failure at his company and it really badly affects his performance review and pay.
At first I thought this was the reaction of one overzealous salesperson. So I asked other people who I knew had done business with this company, with other reps and other locations. Every person I spoke with told me they had gotten the same heartfelt request from their sales person.
In my mind there are three main objectives of customer feedback gathering:
- To find out if there is something that has been missed with the customer so that you can act on it immediately,
- To learn what elements of your product or service experience are important to your customer, and
- To learn where you are excellent (protect that), good (improve that), and falling down (improve that quickly)
A company that has created a system where the entire organization is incented to get a certain score on every question, whether it is true or not, is failing at these objectives. In this situation I would suggest that the customer feedback gathering investment is not only useless, it is likely harmful and creating a company centric vs. customer centric stance in the team.
Communicating and sharing customer feedback with the front-line is critical. All employees need to be congratulated and rewarded for doing great and they equally need to know how they can do better. The key is to be able to use feedback throughout your organization in a way that builds a relentless curiosity for the truth of the customers’ feedback, and a passion for improving. Doing this is tricky, but it absolutely can be done.
Building an honest and constructive feedback process is worth your energy, time and leadership investment. Don’t be seduced by the score – instead be relentless in truly learning how you are making your customers feel, and where you can improve your true results.