We’ve seen it many times. You understand the need to listen to customers. You want to apply their feedback to your organization. You launch your CX programme. Results start coming in. But then it happens. Your channel partners dispute some of the results. ‘That customer didn’t really mean to say that’ or ‘You’re asking the customer to evaluate an experience that didn’t happen.’ What is a CX Executive to do?
In cases like this, a dispute process may need to be put in place. My primary focus is automotive but the lessons learned are the same regardless of industry, whether you’re talking about car dealers or bank employees, or retail associates.
Taking automotive as an example, in any CX programme, there will be times when dealers will argue that a certain survey should not be included in their dealership scores. It could be when a customer is asked about an experience that didn’t happen, or encouraged to provide a rating for a dealership visit that is different from the one they actually went through – and everything in between.
An appeal process is designed to handle these situations. From experience there is no one ‘best practice’ since virtually all manufacturers have their own process and in many cases, they work quite well. There are, however, some general parameters.
Most importantly it needs to be fair, seen to be fair, and applied equally across the network. This is essential since CX scores are often used for evaluation purposes and determining some element of compensation. Fairness is self-explanatory. Without this, the process won’t be trusted. But the process needs to be perceived by dealers as being fair, which is a little different idea. This involves effectively communicating to the dealers what is and what isn’t allowed in unambiguous plain language so the appeal process is above reproach. Lastly, applying the appeal process equally across the network is critical since dealers need to know that regardless of their size, location, profitability – or any other factor – they will be treated fairly.
Below are 10 general parameters which you may wish to consider in establishing an appeal process (below I use automotive as an example, but the principals apply across industries):
- The policy will apply to all dealers regardless of country, region, district, or territory.
- Situations where a disputed survey is omitted from scoring include:
- The customer did not purchase the vehicle from the dealership
- The customer did not service the vehicle at the dealership
- The customer is rating a service experience which is different from the one identified on the survey.
- The customer was not at the dealership identified on the survey
- The verbatim comment is materially different from the score the customer provided e.g., the customer said the service at the dealership was outstanding and yet gave the dealership a bottom box rating
- A coding error was made in the telephone interview
- The final decision as to whether or not a disputed survey is omitted from or included in scoring is made by the appropriate Zone / Regional Manager (Zone Manager / District Manager) or head office CX team representative
- Supporting documentation as to why the survey should be deleted from scoring must be provided with the deletion request (except for the last bullet above referring to a potential coding error during a telephone interview).
- The evidence provided by the dealer requesting the survey’s deletion must be unequivocal.
- If a dealer disagrees with the rating provided by the customer, this is not sufficient grounds for deleting a survey.
- All appeals must be submitted by the dealer within three (3) days of the interview with the customer taking place (telephone or web) regardless of when in the month the interview occurs. No appeals will be considered after this three day time period has passed. (I realize this may be contentious. The goal here is to have dealers check their CX results regularly so they don’t come to the end of the month and realize there’s several surveys they want to challenge. Too many other things are happening at month end and this need not be one of them.)
- If successful, the survey score is deleted from scoring but survey information (e.g., ratings, verbatim comments) is still reported for reference purposes on the dealer’s CX reporting site.
- An appeal can be made regardless of how the survey data were collected e.g., web surveys, telephone, etc.
- There is a reasonable limit to the number of surveys that can be approved/denied in each period. The ‘reasonableness’ would be up to each manufacturer.
The benefit of applying these rules is that the appeal process becomes an even playing field. Everybody knows what the boundaries are and what is and what is not allowed. What surveys are and are not included can be a contentious issue since so much rests on their inclusion (or not) in the dealer’s scores. There will always be exceptions but by applying these guidelines to your appeal process, it will help in the development of a more effective CX programme.