by Patty Azzarello
Be careful what you measureâ¦
BMW serves as a good example of a company that measures service vs. providing it.Â Â ButÂ many companies fall into this trap.Â Does yours?
Here is an example of what I mean:
My last car service:
- I felt bullied by the sales and service people when they told me, as they do each time, thatÂ I âhave to give them a 5 on everythingâ when the survey people call.
- That is not service for me.Â Itâs gaming the measures for them, (and torturing me).
- In my last car service, they failed to reset some system.Â A warning light came on, and I was forced to go back.Â It really screwed up my day.
- When they realized it was their fault, I got only a cursory, âsorry about thatâ.
- After telling them, âyou know, when the survey people call, I am not going to give you a 5 this timeâ and giving them several opportunities to make it better â âIs there something you would like to do for me to improve my experienceâ? â there was no response.
- I then gave the low scores on the phone survey â by the way, the survey taker/process is designed only to ask the questions, not to offer any service when someone is upset.
- Later I got a call from my service guy. It was clear he was forced to call me to follow up on his low score. But the call was about him giving me a hard time because I got him in trouble. (more torture for me)
- As much fun as that was for me, I decided to give them another opportunity.Â I said to him â âactually I was going to call you because I need two other [small things], can you help me?â
- Now here was a chance to provide actual service, when no one was watching or measuring.Â He assured me he would call me back later that afternoon to let me know if he had the part so I could stop by on my way home.
- I never heard from him again.
Do your measures and service processes serve your customers or torture them?
Do you measure the speed of closing problems?
This is a very typical measure.Â But itâs important to understand that this measure canÂ cause youÂ to ignore customer problems, because your service staff is motivated to close out problems quickly,Â vs. take the time to actually fix them, because spending that time would result in a poor measured result.
So you end up with a backlog of problems that could have been fixed, unhappy customers, and sparkling measures for speed of closing problem reports.
- Measuring the number of problems whose root cause has been resolved.
- Or measure the number of customers who report their problem has been solved to their satisfaction.
- Or look for customers who have multiple open issues, or issues open for long time periods and just call them!
Is your service staff trained in following service processes or in providing service?
In my example above, at every step, people were correctly following a process, resulting in my getting more and more tortured.
Customer service people who are trained in processes often delight in not-helping customers when they confident they are correctly following the process.
This is particularly infuriating to customers who want to be made to feel like someone at your company caresÂ about theÂ suffering you are inflicting.
- Training people on the right triggers to throw out the process
- Then have them ask âWhat do you think we should do to make this better for you?â
- And give them the ability to act.
Involve your customer service people in creating great service.
In the BMW example I would have each dealership manage a contest for their service team to get together and come up with three new ideas for how to provide outstanding service.Â You could pay $1000 each for the best 10 ideas.
Instead of putting $10k into a survey, where you have sales and service people training the customers to give the right answers, which are of no real use to you anyway, you could be motivating Actual Service!!
The existence of the contest alone would inspire thinking about service, and you get much better ideas when you involve the people who actually do the work in coming up with the best way to improve it.
Getting it Right
Look at what you measure and then look at the dark side of it.?If you were going to game the measures to come out looking good what would you do??What non-intended result would occur? Â Because it willâ¦
People like to make customers happy.Â Let them.
At the very least, if you are not serious about providing actual service, donât torture your customers with surveys and processes that only annoy them, and give you a false sense of your greatness.
What do you think?
How have you seen customers get service really right or really wrong? Share your stories in the comment box below!
Patty Azzarello is an executive, author, speaker and CEO-advior. She works with executives where leadership and business challenges meet. Patty has held leadership roles in General Management, Marketing, Software Product Development and Sales, and has been successful in running large and small businesses. She writes at Patty Azzarello’s Business Leadership Blog. You’ll find her on Twitter as @PattyAzzarello
Justin Lukasavige says
Ford had my car all day to fix a window motor. When they were finally done (eight hours after they promised to be done) I drove away, tested the window, and it still didn’t work.
I, too, got a, “sorry about that.” It disrupted my entire day and that’s all I got.
To BMW’s credit, at least they’re measuring customer service. I tweeted to Ford from the nice computers they provide in the waiting area, and never even heard back from them.
How hard is it to take the first step and just listen?
Lee Silverstein says
Your story really hit close to home; fortunately, not with the BMW dealer I worked with where their service is exemplary. In your story, management is only concerned with the “scores” and not with the processes that result in high scores. I would also venture to guess that this type of work environment results in high employee turnover as well. Great post.
Customer Loyalty says
I think we’ve all been in situations likes yours. Sometimes it would just be a much more pleasant experience if people acted like real people but the incentives around them and real world pressures don’t keep everyone pulling in the same direction.
Malcolm Pitcher says
We measure customer satisfaction for a number of UK companies. Thankfully,we don’t just ask for a load of scores we also ask customers for comments. We have had people break down in tears during surveys telling us how they have be bullied into giving certain scores (often in retun for some extra “service” FOC).
As we record our survey calls, if we get a situation like this, we always ask if the customer would like us to share their comments with the CEO of the company we are working for. They always say “yes”.
As a result quite few people have been fired. And quite right too.
Patty Azzarello says
Hi Everyone, thanks for your comments on customer service vs. customer service scores…
Malcolm, wow, “would you like to talk to the CEO” love it! Please sell that idea to BMW when you get a chance!
all the best, Patty
I could greatly relate on your experience. I was on the same track as yours. It really pisses me off that some establishmentâs services are downgrading. How I wish thereâs a hot line that we could report such doings. They promise this and that and then after? Nothing is fulfilled and just says âsorryâ without even knowing the real meaning of such word.
Customer service should be given the highest priority. They should put their customers in a pedestal for without such customers, their establishment wonât prosper at all.