Does your business have a service element?  Do you measure customer perceptions of the experience?  If so, you might want to take a quick look under the bonnet.

Let me share a story.  It sounds far-fetched, but is true.

Recently I took a holiday.  Not one to ever fully turn off though, I needed my smartphone.  Sadly, it too had decided to take a vacation.  No calls.  No emails.  “No problem” I thought.  I’ll just call the operator’s help desk and get back online.  Inevitably it wasn’t that simple although soon I was back in action.

A good resolution, but the operator’s brand had been damaged.  Not because of the technical fault, but because of the briefing.  “Soon you will receive The Customer Experience Survey” I was told as the call ended.  “Just a formality really and the score to give is ten”.  And as prophesised the survey arrived on my now fully functional phone.  My feedback was honest.  I gave not the highest score but a fair one.

Then next day came the call.  It was one of the technical support team.  Why hadn’t I followed the briefing?  Did I understand that this would reduce their bonus?  Needless to say the conversation ended pretty quickly and my trust in the company vanished.

This is an example of experience measurement gone horribly wrong.  Rather than incentivising employees to excel, it has encouraged them to play the system. Worse still, rather than improve the customer experience, it’s been damaged.

Now, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  The measurement of customer experience is a good thing.  It ensures performance where it matters, drives improvement and ultimately can boost customer loyalty.   Likewise, incentivising the right behaviours can get results.

Care is needed in execution though.

Measure the right things – the things that customers care about and truly drive loyalty.

Keep it confidential – it encourages honesty and avoids situations like those above.

Prevent fiddling – include a question in the survey to ensure participants haven’t been ‘primed’ and occasionally mystery shop service delivery (this also acts as another valuable measure of service experience quality).

And finally, re-define reward.  By all means keep the financial element as it’s a very powerful motivator, but it’s better if reward originates from within.  Recruit people who want to deliver excellence for its own sake and empower them to do so.

What lessons has your customer experience measurement programme revealed?  Share your thoughts below.

Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) customer satisfaction surveys.

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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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