Why You Should Stop Trying to Improve Your Survey Scores

 The score shouldn't be the goal.

The score shouldn't be the goal.

There’s a lot of pressure these days to improve customer service survey scores. 

Executives review the scores on a regular basis. Business units are compared to one another. Employees are held accountable for their scores. Rewards are given for outstanding results. Low scores bring about consequences.

If this is your company’s focus, you’re wasting your time.

Getting fixated on a number can bring about all sorts of unwelcome behaviors. I recently overheard a coffee shop barista pleading with a customer to give them a great score. “We are sooooooooo graded on this!”

Never mind that the barista’s groveling turned an otherwise pleasant interaction into an awkward moment for the customer and everyone else in the store.

Sometimes, enterprising store managers take it upon themselves to have their employees nudge customers in the right direction. I recently received a survey invitation while shopping at Sports Authority. The cashier stamped the expected answer on the invitation.


Gee, thanks.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. Auto dealerships are notorious for this type of obnoxious behavior where they relentlessly pester customers to give them a great survey score. All the while, any actual feedback is ignored.

What if you don’t engage in manipulative tactics? 

Focusing on the score is still missing the point. The score, by itself, doesn’t tell you anything. It certainly doesn’t help you do anything differently.

A score is nothing but an average. It’s an aggregate representation of many individual experiences. Focusing on the score might even hide service failures so long as the average looks good.

Think of it this way: your 85 percent satisfaction score won’t help the individual customer who is currently receiving poor service. 


What you should focus on instead

Companies that truly care about customer service focus on continuous improvement.

The customer service survey can be a valuable tool in this quest. Used correctly, it provides valuable insight into what your customers want you to do better. This insight should lead to action that will improve service.

Better service, not better a better score, is the obsession.

Making sense of survey data can be tough. Companies can have a hard time culling insights from reams of data and turning those insights into action. That’s why I’m hosting a webinar on Wednesday, March 5 from 10-11am (Pacific) called How to Analyze and Act on Customer Service Survey Data.

The goal is to show you how to quickly use this data to continuously improve service. I hope you can attend.