Customer Satisfaction Q&A

Our recent article on doing customer satisfaction surveys the right way prompted us to sit down with our own customer support manager, Taylor Morgan, to get her input on how to properly survey your customers. Here’s what she had to say:

Q. As a customer service manager, what are the appropriate ways of dealing with low NPS scores?

A. Firstly, we have all scores, good or bad, sent directly to the support rep and manager. This way, we can all keep a pulse on how our customers are feeling, and get instant feedback that helps us improve!

If we get a low score, we encourage the support rep to reach out to the customer directly to try to make things right. In some cases, this isn’t the right course of action for the customer’s specific concerns. In that scenario, we have one of our team leads jump in and help sort things out. Either way, if we receive a low score, there is follow-up with the customer.

Q. I’m thinking context is important. Can you elaborate on what impact low NPS scores that are out of your control should have on your approach? For instance, a customer gives an agent or a rep a low NPS score because they followed company policy.

A. I am a firm believer that all feedback is important, even if we decide not to immediately act on it.

Per your example, If we got low feedback because a support rep followed company policy, it might mean that we should change that policy!

There is no point in collecting feedback if you plan to ignore it.

We need to keep our ears open at all times, and read between the lines. I hate when feedback is dismissed because it doesn’t make us feel good or boost our egos.

On the flip side, I also believe we need to think critically about acting on feedback. We should always listen, and look for ways to improve, but we don’t need to change our entire business model based on feedback from a single outlier.

There is a difference between being responsive to feedback, and acting on everything you hear. Ultimately, it’s up to us to make decisions that benefit our team, our business, AND or customers. 

Q. What would be some thoughts you would have for an organization that wants to revamp this process? What if their employees are currently ingrained to be afraid of the surveys because of past actions? How do you fix the process and regain employee trust?

A. This one is tough, because it sounds like the problem here is not the survey or the feedback, but the company culture. I’ve learned from studying human psychology, and hilariously enough, dog training, that punishment is an incredibly ineffective way to train or motivate anyone.

SurveyGizmo has been practicing agile development since it’s birth. This means we are very accustomed to failing fast and often. We see failure as an opportunity to learn and get better, and I would encourage other organizations to look at failure the same way.

I read somewhere once that employee mistakes shouldn’t be punished, because they are actually just an investment in training. If the individual isn’t learning from making the same mistakes over and over, that’s when it becomes a performance issue.  

The other thing I know is that sometimes you can do everything exactly right, and a customer still gives negative feedback. Knowing this, and having experienced it myself, I could never be harsh with an employee for receiving a low score. My only ask is that we try to boil down the feedback into what we could have done better, and do it next time!

Q. What would you do with an employee that was trying to game the system? (i.e. encouraging  customers to give them inflated scores with coercion, giving away the store, or for sympathy – “I’ll lose my job if you don’t give me a 10”.

A. I think gaming the system is again a culture thing that comes out of fear. This is the kind of thing that happens when you set the wrong goals.

For example, setting a goal of 100 NPS sounds innocent enough, but it might result in things like you’ve outlined here. The goal shouldn’t be to have a high score, because the score itself doesn’t matter. What really matters is happy customers.

What would I do with someone who did this? I would start by asking why they felt it was necessary. I would also make sure they understood the purpose of collecting NPS. The goal is to get feedback, not to ask people to tell us what we want to hear!



Q. If you do happen to see a trend of low NPS scores centering one support person over time – what would be a great way to deal with that? (in a way that does not make your team distrust the surveys).

My personal approach on this would be to ask the support hero if they had any idea why their scores might be different than others. I know that there is always part of the story that I’m not aware of.

Sometimes, someone has a lower overall score because they are the most skilled on the team, and therefore take on the hardest issues or the angriest customers, because they are just the best person for the job.

If this was the case, I wouldn’t worry about the score. If I myself had witnessed bad support being given to a customer, I might investigate the scores to see if it validated my concerns or not.

A low score on it’s own is not always cause for concern. NPS scores should be used in conjunction with other feedback, not on their own.

Q. Do you have any Pet Peeves when it comes to companies using NPS?

A. YES! The one that kills me the most is when the promoter score is pre-selected. I’ve seen this on both online surveys and paper ones. Similarly, some places explain how NPS scoring works within their survey, to almost guilt their customers into at least choosing neutral rather than a detracting score.

Like I said before, what’s the point of collecting feedback, if you are only asking for your customers to tell you want you want to hear? How does that help you grow your business?

Just remember it isn’t about the scores. It is the comments and the feedback that you gather that offers your company an opportunity to improve.

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