Manipulating Customer Service Ratings


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I wanted to share two recent experiences with my family’s automobiles and the ensuing manipulation of the Customer Satisfaction process.

A few months ago, we had one of our cars serviced. We were then told to fill out the Customer Satisfaction form with perfect scores for the Service department!

Recently, we bought a new car. The experience left something to be desired, and I said so in the Customer Sat survey. Yesterday, the sales rep left a message on our home voice mail stating that she was very upset that I had not rated her well. She then blamed us for ruining her day!

What’s going on?

Do these major automotive companies have so little faith in their cars, dealers and service departments that they have to manipulate the process? Surely the manufacturers know this is going on. So why aren’t they taking action?

Do manufacturers and dealers have a common goal of making the customer satisfaction ratings look good for advertising purposes?

Read about the 7-Point Customer Service Bill of Rights!

Back to my story. In the first instance, we had the car in for routine maintenance. The next day, we received a call from the dealer asking if everything went well. We said yes. The rep then told us that a survey was coming in the mail and that we should answer all the questions with a “5” for satisfaction, as that would really help out the dealer. So much for the value of the service department customer sat data!

Now for the story about the new car purchase.

Everything was fine except when we picked-up the car. This is always an exciting moment, but it was spoiled for my wife and me. First, our sales rep could not show us how to operate the brand new, high tech navigation, climate control and surround sound music systems, all of which were major selling points for this car. No one else was available to help. That left us frustrated and disappointed.

Then, as we were at her desk signing the final documents, our sales rep and her associate had a heated argument about some office issues that had nothing to do with our purchase. We sat there in the middle of their verbal cross-fire.

"The Voice of the Consumer: Does Everyone Hear It?" by Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes, CEO/President, Adizes Institute. Read the article in his blog.

Two weeks later, when the customer satisfaction questionnaire arrived by mail, it seemed to offer an anonymous response since my name wasn’t on it. I answered the questions and explained that this had not been an optimal experience. However, because our sales rep had emphasized that she wanted to get good ratings, I was much more diplomatic than I should have been.

Imagine my reaction when my wife played the voice mail from the sales rep thanking me for having ruined her day and her ratings.

How else can these companies improve except though customer feedback? And what about the implied confidentiality of the survey I returned?

The Takeaways:


Take a careful look at your customer sat process. Are the questions the correct questions? Will they get you the “right” answers or the real answers?


Are there opportunities for employees to manipulate the process, to get the “right” results?


What is done with the results? Are they used internally to ask the tough questions and make changes, or are they fodder for advertising slogans and sales brochures?


If your customer sat questionnaires say or imply that responses will be confidential, then honor that, so customers won’t feel punished for taking the trouble to submit honest feedback.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


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