Customer Experience Leaders, Are Your Metrics Too Loud to Hear?

Big companies use metrics to assess how well they are scaling up to the demands of a large customer base. They often get so focused on scaling that they lose sight of true customer satisfaction.

They become so addicted to pre-designed metrics, they can actually have a skewed assessment of their service quality. Instead of surveying what the customer cares about, they decide in advance what to survey and force fit every customer’s opinion into it.

It’s as if there is a “do not enter” sign at the beginning of every survey telling the customers not to intrude with their perspective.

Could this be happening in your organization? Customer experience leaders, are your pre-designed metrics too loud to hear the customer’s view?

Customer Experience Leaders, Do You Let Your Customers Enter With Their View? Image by: aur2899


A True Customer Experience Many Have Lived

  • A friend of mine received a call from Verizon, her telephone provider. The rep asked her if she had called Verizon the previous week for assistance and she replied yes. He asked her if she had made more than one call to resolve the issue. She replied, yes.

    His very next question was: “Overall, how would you rank the service you received?” and gave her 5 options to choose from. She gave him a ranking about the first call and a ranking for the second.

    Then it happened. Verizon put up the virtual “do not enter” sign. He repeated the question and asked her for just one answer.

    Since one ranking didn’t make sense to her, she simply ended the call. The fact that they were closing the door on her honest opinion made her feel they didn’t deserve any more of her valuable time.

    In the end, what did they gain from this call? Nothing. What impression did they leave? Horrible.

  • Customers’ Reactions to the Do Not Enter Signs

    • Annoyed to be trapped in the force of your questions that don’t make sense
    • Insulted to be shut out of giving their honest opinions
    • Mistrustful of your intentions
    • Disinterested in participating in the future
    • Think less of your brand

    There is something very presumptuous and narcissistic about companies who don’t want to listen to the customer’s feedback. It screams out “we know more about what is important to you — than you do!”

    It is unfortunate in the example noted above that pre-designed metrics became too loud in importance to hear the customer’s true opinion.

    Don’t let this approach take hold in your company.

    Use every survey — especially those done by phone — as a vehicle of innovation for your company. Unearth why they left their previous provider to ensure they don’t leave you!

    You can access a world of no cost input through the voice of the customer. It is a portal of important feedback to create the ultimate customer experience and also the hinge of connection for building stronger, more loyal relationships.

    Replace the do not enter sign with an open door, open arms, and definitely an open mind.

    From my professional experience to your success,
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

    Related Post: Super Opportunity to Improve Every Customer Experience Survey

    ©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

    12 Responses to “Customer Experience Leaders, Are Your Metrics Too Loud to Hear?”

    1. Melissa Kovacevic says:

      Oh those wonderful fully controlled scripts our customers hate and yet some companies seem to love! Your post is a perfect example of this, Kate. Great article!

    2. Jeff Toister says:

      I often wonder if the true motivation on a survey like the one you described is to achieve a certain score rather than improving service. It may not even be a conscious effort, but these type of actions suggest “get the score” versus “learn how to improve.”

    3. Perfect, Kate.

      My favorite example of the dynamic you describe was a survey I once received on an airline about their food (this was before meals were eliminated in coach). The customer was asked to indicate which competitor airlines he/she had used and then asked to rank the competitor’s meals against the meals of the airline conducting the survey; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But there was never any point at which the customer was given the option of saying whether any of the meals were actually that good. Airline A might certainly be slightly better than Airline B, but so what if it’s all mediocre.

      It happened to be a paper and pencil survey so I took the liberty of writing my opinions not only about the food but also the survey, too, including my contact information, but, of course, there was no follow-up thanking me for my helpful suggestion to rate according to whether people truly liked what they were given to eat.

      Another wonderful post, Kate. Thank you.

    4. Nancy Barlow says:

      “Instead of surveying what the customer cares about, they decide in advance what to survey and force fit every customer’s opinion into it” – I love that phrase, and agree with Jeff’s words regarding score achievement. I can already think of one organisation I would like to send a copy of this article to, along with an explanation of why I am sending it….Thanks again Kate 🙂

      • Kate Nasser says:

        Thank you Nancy. So glad you think this post is valuable info to share with others.

        This survey habit is everywhere and unfortunately misleading many leaders into a skewed view of performance.

        Let’s ask customers for their perspective — not their vote on our pre-designed metrics.

    5. My most recent example: I continue to receive an attempt to coerce a high Customer Satisfaction number from employees of GM. This company has tied employee compensation to Customer Satisfaction. The concept can be good, but the execution must be flawless and honest. Very difficult to do with a large salesforce.

      I bought a new vehicle last year and received strong recommendations from both the salesperson and the serviceperson that my number should be a “5” or they fail (and it affects their paycheck). The salesperson even showed me a laminated copy of the Customer satisfaction survey premarked with how to fill it out (“5”). I look forward to how this will change with a new CMO.

      • Kate Nasser says:

        Wow Jaci — talk about sidestepping quality just to get a pay bonus. Great story that illustrates metric-itis in action.

        Thank you for sharing it!

    6. Why ask for someone’s opinion if you aren’t willing to listen to all of it? If a customer is willing to honestly answer your questions it’s important that you give them the room to do so. Obviously you want to focus their answers so you can get the information you’re looking for, but focus it in the right way!

      • Kate Nasser says:

        Hi Trish, Your question says it all — why bother asking if you don’t want to hear the customers’ views. Customers are busy and when they give you some of their time for feedback, they of course expect great listening!

        Thanks for weighing in on this one.

    7. Michelle Morris says:

      Terrific post Kate. To all of us who care about our customers and measure satisfaction and loyalty – we must recognize that every survey we do is an opportunity to leave an impression, just like the experience with a product or service. Survey’s should be looked at from the customer’s perspective to make sure that they are providing the intended experience. Thanks for bringing this up!


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