“Accept Nothing But All 5s” on Customer Satisfaction Survey?

I recently ran into this situation at my truck dealership after a routine maintenance. I got handed a “How did we do?” customer survey. The service technician looked me in the eye and said in all seriousiness, “Please give us all 5s on our survey. That scoring affects our salary and employment. Anything less than 5 is considered unacceptable.

Sadly, this situation happens far too often. And I would argue hurts performance. The wrong thing is being taught and applied here.

My argument is, if your organization’s goal is for a customer to rate you a 5 every time, you’re actually setting your team up to fail to meet impossible goals.  Why?  Because it’ll be biased.  How do I know?  Experience, doing IT Service Management for 30 years.  Let me explain:

Opinion #1. The minimum acceptable metric should be a 3.   “We met the project requirement, and the engagement was good”.  Most vendors should ask for feedback here as 3 is the “met expectations” rating.  Not a bad rating, but ultimately your wanting to make investments in training and customer service to drive towards a 4.

Opinion #2. When thinking of goal metrics, 4 out of 5-point rating system should be the target.  “We exceeded expectations with the project and the engagement was very good.”

Opinion #3. A 5 should be a rare occurrence.  Heroic-level performance.  “We far exceeded expectations with the project and the engagement was amazing”.  If your people do 5-level work, then reward them with bonus and recognition when it happens.  Handing out 5s should only be rewarded when the team is being exceptional.  Handing out 5s every day diminishes its value.

The way I view CSAT is:

  • 0% = Score 1, Poor  (We failed the customer)
  • 5% = Score 2, Average (We missed the mark, we need to improve)
  • 50% = Score 3, Good (We hit the mark)
  • 40% = Score 4, Very Good (We hit the mark and the customer is very pleased)
  • 5% = Score 5, Excellent (We crushed the mark, the customer loves us, and we are heroes)

If you want people to work harder, incentivize through real feedback and set customers’ expectations appropriately, so you’re driving down the organizations’ desire for bias, such as “We need to be all 5s, all the time”.  I have not encountered a system that expects all five to actually drive human performance, team. Burn out, frustration, and growing distrust of leadership is often accompanied by these expectations.

Do I have this wrong? Let me know where and how.

\\ JMM

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