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Stop Beating Your CSAT To Death

March 3, 2014

A while back we looked at how marketing shoves the Customer Abuse Department under the bus by setting unrealistic expectations nobody can possibly live up to.

Today I want to talk about another reason our customers may be finding our statements about their value a little dubious, and it’s time to blame Daddy. You remember Daddies, don’t you?

Daddies are the often-conflicting priorities of our internal structures. For example, one of my Daddies is managing to an operating budget. The Sales Squirrels to whom  I shovel customers have a Daddy called Stretch Targets. To hit their targets, they want more leads, to get them more leads, I will need to spend more budget than I have, which makes the Squirrels nuts, and there you have it.

With so many companies failing to come up with a value proposition that is more imaginative than “we’ll be real nice to you”, suddenly there are a bunch of new Daddies in the place, handing out cigars and plopping customer service goals all over the desks of leaders.

We all know that what gets plopped onto the desks of Corporate Overlords, eventually rolls down the hill to the rest of us, but that doesn’t mean we have the same Daddies at the end of the day.

Let’s look at customer satisfaction. Deep in the bowels of your Customer Abuse call centre is a CSR named Tammy or Jordan or something like that. Their Daddy is Average Handle Time or Time to Answer or some other thing that makes it worth their while to not solve problems and get rid of customers as quickly as possible.

Now waaaaaay up at the top of the house is someone named Tammy or Jordan or something like that with a Daddy that looks a lot like Net Promoter Score.  The downstairs Daddy is going to kick the upstairs Daddy’s ass.

But wait! There’s more! In the middle we have some other weirdness going on. We have transaction surveys. You know about those: every drugstore, clothing chain and dog groomer wants us to fill in an online thing for a chance to win $1,000.

Nothing wrong there. No need for customers to wait around to vent their frustration with a manager, they can just go home and  trash the place in your survey. If they had a good experience, presumably, they are now equally absolved of any responsibility to smile and say thank you.  This is so much more sanitary than resolving a service issue in person. Except now there’s another Daddy in the room, which is the accountability of the front line manager to do well on these surveys. This can drive all kinds of unfortunate unintended consequences like, say, this one:

Dave's CSAT Note 2

Yup, that’s an email my friend Dave received from his car dealer service consultant. It’s easy in this one to blame the service guy, who would rather, it appears, try to fix the survey than the service quality, but you kind of have to feel sorry for him. In my more charitable moods, I’m inclined to think that Andrew is actually trying to re-intermediate himself between his customer and his brand before his Daddy gets home from work and makes him call the Detractors.

Front-line managers, if memory serves, were hired because they are good at solving front-line problems. Sending them into their offices to do email interventions and play Candy Crush with their CSAT numbers is not going to help anyone.

Now that customer satisfaction metrics are inflicting blunt force trauma on pretty much every part of your organization, what are humble marketers to do about it? Rise up, I say! Get off your chair and into that elevator and rise up to the floor where Daddies are made and reassert yourself as the steward of your brand.

Remind your Corporate Overlords that just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean it’s helpful to do so. What we need are fewer metrics and more meaning and one Daddy to rule us all. That can be NPS or some other system, but it needs to add insight and meaning, not fear and manipulation to the whole thing.

By all means we should keep surveying transactions if that makes us happy, but let’s aggregate the data for a while. Look for some trends, pull in some customers for a chat, let front-line people solve front-line problems and dedicate ourselves to serving customers not Daddies.

Related Posts

Retention Disorders or Why Churning is for Butter
What to Do with Your Passives
How Can I Ignore You When You Keep Going Away?

BizMarketer is Elizabeth Williams
You can reach me at escwilliams@gmail.com
or follow me on Twitter @bizmkter

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2 comments

  1. […] Stop Beating Your CSAT To Death | BizMarketer http://bizmarketer.wordpress.com/Stop Beating Your CSAT To Death. March 3, 2014. A while back we looked at how marketing shoves the Customer Abuse Department under the bus by setting unrealistic expectations nobody can possibly live up to. Today I want to talk about … […]


  2. […] Stop Beating Your CSAT to Death Retention Disorders or Churning is for Butter Fight Them in the Cafe […]



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