What Happens When A Company’s (Apparent) Focus Is More On Chasing The “Score” Than Improving The Customer Experience?


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Well, a quick answer to this question is that rank and file employees are often quite sensitive to this. Among the many consequences of score-chasing is that employees can be skeptical of both management pronouncements and any customer-related initiatives begun within the company. Employees will be reluctant to share their perspectives through “official’ debriefing methods, but they will readily express themselves in informal dialogue. That said, how would the organization understand what can occur, culturally, when it fails to consistently and assertively walk the customer experience talk?

One method is web-scraping, using tools which allow the harvesting of informal employee statements made on Internet chat and rating sites. Here is just one of many examples, this one comes from Reddit, an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links, making it essentially an online bulletin board system. Registered users can then vote submissions up or down to organize the posts and determine their position on the site’s pages. The site, which calls itself “the front page of the Internet”, has been in operation for over ten years.

The following are real employee quotes, taken from a Reddit discussion between several individuals regarding how they perceive the realities of corporate efforts to pump up a key performance metric, relative to what has been communicated internally and to the general public:

“So they decide to give special stock incentives to managers and employees to make it better. Nothing about changing policies and procedures to change really anything. Problem is that they come out to the public SAYING they care. Internally they really don’t care and nothing has really changed. It’s pretty funny. It is also an easy fix, move away from the sales mentality and concentrate on the customers you have NOW instead of worrying how much you will get in the future.”

“My understanding from a current longtime employee is that they view all customer service calls as nothing but opportunities to sell something,”

“They all have metrics to sell, even retention. Customer survey scores are measured but nobody is held accountable. The problem is that there are no existing policies and procedures that really help the customer out. Especially with credits and things of that nature. They are trying to make customer service better using the same shoddy things they always do.”

“We’re HYPER focused on fixing that score. We’ve launched new teams and managers specifically dedicated to increasing NPS. We’re aware the work we have to do and we’re focused intently on it. Let’s be honest. This is a sales company. The sales mentality isn’t going away but it has to be a complete process. We truly believe we’ve got the best products and services and we need to use those to help improve customers’ lives and make them more enriched by what we offer.”

“The new teams and “managers” have done nothing concrete to improve the status that is already going on. National teams have ZERO bearing on what happens at the division and regional level. Shows how disconnected YOU are.”

“Even the frontline talks about improving EXISTING metrics. I’m saying the ones now don’t do anyone any good. Don’t even get me started on outsourcing calls.”

“You really have no idea how this company works. I bet you’re a 20+ year employee that is so blinded by these idiots. Next time why don’t you help someone that is crying in your face because she was lied to by someone over the phone and scammed into buying service. How about you tell the family that their bill goes up after 12 months and the company doesn’t notify them.”

There is much more to this string of back-and-forth employee dialogue regarding how they interpret the company’s real motive: Increase the score, but keep selling and don’t give much thought or attention to actually improving the customer experience. These are the kind of quotes that can’t be generated by customer or employee surveys. Nor would they ever surface in group or one-on-one employee interviews. But, gathering these perspectives and interpreting them through advanced text analytics approaches through the less traditional channels available will help an organization both identify potential impact on the culture and get back on the path to customer experience reality – – if they are truly serious about doing so.

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


  1. Good points, Michael. I appreciate these comments from employees about their disillusionment in chasing a score.

    What many executives don’t understand about metrics is that the big-picture performance measures are not actionable at the team and employee levels. It’s a big mistake to hold employees to customer survey ratings and indexes as their primary CX performance objectives.

    Those can be a small percentage of the performance equation, but what’s needed is to ask “why” 5 times about the driver of the index/rating that relates to the team/employee. Then track something in the team’s/employee’s job that contributes to the root issue. If you’ve done this process accurately you can bet that focusing on what the employee contributes to the root issue will in fact shift the rating/index/business results.

    Such a simple principle, yet so narrowly understand among managers today. Readers may appreciate this description of what it takes to engage employees in making progress for the company’s balanced scorecard: Employee Engagement in Balanced Scorecards

  2. Lynn and Marc –

    Thanks for your response. Even the simple and elegant ‘Amen’ reminds me of two quotes used in my first book, Customer Retention, written about 20 years ago. The first comes from Benjamin Hoff’s “The Tao of Pooh”:

    “How can you get very far, if you don’t know Who You Are? How can you do what you ought, if you don’t know What You’ve Got.? And if you don’t know Which To Do of all the things in front of you, then what you’ll have when you are through is just a mess without a clue. Of all the best that can come true if you know What and Which and Who.”

    The second quote comes from Asakura Toshikage, Daimyo of Echizen (1428 – 1481), from “Ideals of the Samurai”:

    “Three times a year one should have an able and honest retainer go around the province, listen to the opinions of the four classes of people (samurai, farmers, artisans and merchants) and devise some policy in regard to those opinions.”

    Pooh and practical samurai lords often had useful, objective ideas for generating ans sustaining value.


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