Last week, I begrudgingly brought my SUV to the dealership for a routine inspection and oil change. I dread these service visits (and put them off as long as I can) because I know absolutely nothing about automobiles.
As I waited for the service to be done, the mechanic would occasionally pop by to explain what they were going to do to fix up my car. I’d quickly agree to whatever was recommended, as his suggestions went completely over my head, given my lack of automotive knowledge.
Two hours later, the mechanic asks me if I’m ready to go and I eagerly say “yes,” excited to finally get out of this very uncomfortable (for me) situation. I follow him to the register and pay the bill—more than expected, but because I had little understanding of what was actually done, who was I to question the amount?
After settling up, things took a quick turn…
“In the next day or so, you should receive a survey from us and it would mean a lot if you filled it out,” said the mechanic.
So far, so good. But then…
“Here’s a sheet of paper with all of the responses you should give. And if you answer this way, you qualify for a free tune-up package. Last month, we had five customers in the raffle, so your odds of winning are pretty good.”
While this might seem like a pretty benign experience to most, red flags were flying for me as a professional in the voice of the customer (VOC) industry. I know it’s a pervasive problem with VOC programs that evaluate frontline performance, but this was the most blatant display of bias that I have personally witnessed.
The thought of patrons responding to requests for feedback inauthentically in exchange for a free tune-up stings. It undermines the integrity of the entire customer feedback program—where corporate CX teams could look at responses received and assume that all is well, when in reality, the results are completely distorted.
I thought I’d use this story as a vehicle (pun intended) for sharing some tips. If you’re in a position where you manage a listening program like this, what can you do to prevent associates from influencing customer feedback?
Evaluate Employee Experience
What the mechanic did was wrong, there’s no denying that. But as I drove away from the dealership, I wondered what would motivate that behavior. Is there an award or a financial incentive that he’s hoping to obtain? I assume so, and if that’s the case, it’s coming at a cost of collecting invalid customer feedback.
To dissuade employees from going to these lengths, make sure they feel adequately recognized and compensated, regardless of the number of surveys completed or scores obtained. This can be accomplished through a voice of the employee program that receives just as much (if not more) attention as the VOC program.