‘Give Me 10s’ – Customer Satisfaction Research in a 10-Out-of-10 World

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Ratings Reign Supreme

Choosing a restaurant, a washing machine or a vacation destination? Simply turn to Yelp, Amazon or TripAdvisor (or a plethora of other sites) to find the best option for you. No doubt your selection will be guided by the number of positive ratings afforded to the item in question. Customer satisfaction is paramount.

In many cases, these are voluntarily evaluations that go hand-in-hand with crowd-sourced information living on the social web. Beyond this, marketers are capitalizing on a highly-engaged culture of reviewers to understand how people feel about a particular brand, product or experience in order to better serve their customers.

Essential Information for Marketers

This is tremendously valuable information that can feed into short and long term performance, as well as future directions and innovations that will drive growth. As a result, consumers are being asked to provide feedback on every transaction from buying groceries to staying at a hotel to leasing a car. This request for feedback is often accompanied by pleas from sales people across the board to “give me tens”. This can range from – “Is there anything else I can do, if not I expect a 10” to “I need a 10 otherwise I won’t get my bonus”.

An Uncomfortable Proposition

To consumers this is all somewhat uncomfortable, and to researchers it raises questions around the results. Given the importance in this type of research, it needs careful positioning to highlight its value; both to facilitate response rates and honest feedback on recent interactions.

During a recent visit with my niece, I re-watched Pixar’s Inside Out. One of the central premises of the film is that being happy all the time isn’t enough. We need to accept some sadness in our lives in order to truly be fulfilled. To extrapolate this point to ratings, we need to know the bad from the good. We also need to know the good from the exceptional.

The Push for 10s Raises a Few Points:

1. Where’s the room for improvement? We can always do better, and when an experience/service/situation really is a 10, we have nowhere to go to show that excellence.

2. As a consumer, if I take the time to provide feedback, I should be fair. It’s one thing to be reminded that I’m giving feedback on someone’s performance and that there may be financial implications to such. It’s another thing to be told that someone will only get paid if the answers are all 10s. First, is that person really telling the truth? And if so, this presents the consumer with a moral dilemma unless 10s across the board are truly warranted. Of course, there’s also the reality that many people hiding behind a keyboard can be overly ruthless.

3. Furthermore, by filling out this survey, in certain circumstances, the consumer is open to the position that the salesperson will contact them about their less than 10s feedback. This puts the consumer in a vulnerable position and could lead to them being more favorable than they should, thus voiding the usefulness of the feedback system.

Where Does This Leave Us?

To return to the beginning, customer satisfaction research can be an immensely value tool for marketers. But it needs to be collected in the right way, from the design of the questionnaire (mobile-first, naturally) to the requests from sales associates to survey completion. And we also need to recognize that perhaps a 9 is pretty darn good.

To learn even more about C-SAT surveys, check this post.

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