A short cautionary tale about the misuse of customer data


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This is a short story about surveying your customers and how extrapolating too far and too fast from a limited data set can damage your relationships with your customers.

Before Christmas I attended a London and the South East Contact Centre Forum event entitled: Is your contact centre ready for the future?

At the event, an analyst from Gartner, let’s call him Mike for the sake of this post, shared a personal story about what happened when he recently called his bank’s customer service facilities.

He started his story by saying that if he was to rank his relationship with his bank he would rate it, on average, as 5 out of 10.

On this occasion, when he called the bank, his call was answered quickly and his problem was solved without much fuss. So, at the end of the call, when asked to rated his experience he rated his experience as 9 out of 10. A near perfect result.

What happened next is the most interesting bit.

As a result of his rating of his recent call, the bank started sending messages to Mike believing that he is now ‘9 out of 10’ customer, happy with his bank and is primed to recommend the bank to his friends, family and all people in between.

However, there is a problem with this. Mike, by his own admission, is still, on average, a ‘5 out of 10’ customer when it comes to how he feels about his bank. And, the more messages that he receives from his bank about how he is a ‘9 out of 10’ sort of guy, the more that they annoy him.

Don’t get me wrong. Surveying your customers and asking them to rate their experience with you is a good thing and a great way to gauge how you are doing. And, it’s always exciting to achieve scores like 9 out of 10 when you are trying to deliver great customer and a great customer experience. But, we have to be careful not to jump to any conclusions when we achieve a big jump in positive customer feedback and we must remember to look at the result in it’s wider context. Extrapolating a view of your customer based on one data point is dangerous, can back-fire and do more harm than good to your relationship with your customer.

Relationships can change dramatically overnight, as a result of one new experience, but it doesn’t happen very often. Therefore, we need to be careful with the use and interpretation of data.

This post was originally published on my Forbes.com column.

Photo Credit: C_Knaus via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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