Does your survey process protect agents from vulgar customer comments?


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Why is this a problem?

Every day in a call center is filled with surprises from “customers saying the darndest things”. Many of the things that you hear on calls are funny like the caller who wants a new washing machine because the lid keeps hitting her on the head or the guy who thinks there are signals from deep space that are making his electric meter spin faster than he is using electricity. You probably have some good customer comments hanging up in your center. If only customers were only funny or slightly kooky, but we all know that there are rude and downright vulgar customers.

While you have techniques and guidelines for your agents to employ when a customer is becoming “not-at-all funny”, shall we say, the same should be true for your customer experience measurement methodology. Many programs allow the customer to leave a comment in relationship to one or more of the survey questions. The comments are then shared with the agents, often on his or her individual performance scorecard.

Receiving constructive criticism from the survey scorecards is extremely beneficial. Hearing the customers’ own words makes a much larger impact than hearing the same information from a coach or team lead. But when comments are presented verbatim, the opportunity for constructive feedback to turn to destructive is not only possible but will occur.

It is not uncommon for customers to use crude and tasteless words when leaving a comment on the survey. Such expressions seem to be easier to say to the survey system than directly to the agent during the call so the occurrence is more frequent that most would think. Another vulgar comment type is related to race. Agent accents too often provide fodder for rude comments on the survey. Race-based comments are definitely more free-flowing in the survey environment compared to speaking directly to an agent. Such comments are terribly hurtful and should not appear on scorecards. Finally, another group of comments that we see are not rude, but definitely inappropriate. Customers may leave their phone number for the agent when expressing how attractive or “hot” the agent sounds. Doing one’s job should not open him or her up to unwanted advances and suggestions from customers.

The Solution

The solution may sound obvious but your customer post-call IVR survey (or email survey) must include a process to identify and correct the use of vulgarity, racial comments and graphic suggestions or advances made by responders. There is no benefit to anyone from reading survey comments that include such offenses. As an employer you also have a legal obligation to protect your employees from such offenses. The Survey Calibration process used by Customer Relationship Metrics eliminates the crude and tasteless terms without changing the sentiment of the comment. You must include a Survey Calibration process within your in-house program if you have one. Without changing the results or the underlying message, all programs should have a Survey Calibration process that includes this type of audit and subsequent alteration if needed.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Rembach
Jim Rembach is recognized as a Top 50 Thought Leader and CX Influencer. He's a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner and host of the Fast Leader Show podcast and president of Call Center Coach, the world's only virtual blended learning academy for contact center supervisors and emerging supervisors. He’s a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s CX Expert Panel, Advisory Board Member for Customer Value Creation International (CVCI), and Advisory Board Member for CX University.


  1. There’s just no reason to expose your agents to vulgar or abusive language. What good is going to come from hearing the customer call them names? Swear? Or make crude remarks? It might give you the caller’s state of mind but what does it really do to help that agent get better?


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