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rate it “superior” December 15, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Experiences.
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(Click to embiggen.)

The Dilbert comic strip could be considered emblematic of CorporateSpeak, or of cubicle-based life in general. But today’s really hits close to home.

Possibly the worst thing to ever happen to customer service is the concept of “being rated by the customer”. I’m sure it started out with the best of intentions — find out what your clients think is wrong with your business and get it fixed. But what it’s devolved into is a quick and easy way for employees to lose acclaim in the company. After all, if you only gave “three” service, when you could have given “five” service, you must only be doing 60% of what you could be.

Why bother? Why try to be perfect for everyone when you know someone’s just going to mess it up anyway? And those one or two average reports more than outweigh the 200 all-five reports you got.

So people who work in customer service don’t even try. Oh, they give good service, but they don’t knock themselves out 100% of the time. Instead, they say, “oh, by the way, we have this survey and our corporate office is going to call you about it. Now, if you could just rate us highest for everything, because every rating that isn’t ‘five’ means the whole crew gets in trouble. So, can you just help us out?”

The place I see this most is with Toyota’s service departments. They’re pretty good (I’ve been to a few), and I’ve never had any complaints, but I don’t feel that I should have to sit on the phone with a Toyota corporate service representative just to fill out a survey. Maybe I wasn’t thrilled with the waiting room — maybe I was ticked because the Wi-Fi wasn’t very good. Maybe the coffee tasted like battery acid because it had been on the burner too long. Maybe I had to wait a long time to check out because the person in front of me had credit card troubles. Could be any reason at all that made me less than thrilled at the end of my service.

The solution? Simply don’t answer the survey. Tell the representative that you don’t do the surveys, and when you get the phone calls, answer them and say you won’t be completing the survey now or ever. Be polite. But be honest. No one should have their job depend solely on getting “superior” ratings from customer service surveys. It’s just unfair.

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