Customer Satisfaction Ratings: Do they make you or bury you?


When I was first introduced to automated Customer Satisfaction Ratings, I had an a-ha moment. That was exactly what I thought I needed to keep everyone in our team in check, liable for their actions and our customer satisfaction.

The first couple of months following implementation were an incredible discovery process. I now had the insight to the exact situations that led to positive and negative results. It was a management field day. I could narrow down behaviors, people, and situations that resulted in negative ratings and work towards changing them so that we could consistently produce good ratings.

Months went by and we were clearly improving our ratings. After nearly 18 months with this methodology, we got to a point where all we had were positive ratings. 5 or 6 months of all positive ratings in a row should have been the pinnacle of our efforts, but it was actually the moment that made me see everything we were doing upside down.

I was no longer seeing customer ratings as a metric to keep in mind, but rather as an ironclad obligation. No longer a tool serving me, the ratings were my new boss. And not that they are not important as benchmarks or indicators of overall service health, but I noticed I had gone overboard. In not wanting to break the winning streak, I was making decisions based on the fear of a negative rating rather than because they were the right decision to be made.

And that is what this article is all about. Where is the awareness of how someone else feels about you no longer just awareness, but a duty? And how does this duty compromise authenticity and doing things for the right reasons? Just like in any relationship, the right actions for the wrong reasons can lead to a sense of imprisonment.

In our 360 degrees instant feedback virtual society, it is such a temptation to do things for the likes. And not that there is anything inherently wrong in that, but in the long run, how do I feel about that and what kind of world am I contributing to?

Sure enough, after a seven-month streak of only positive situations with clients, we ran across an insurmountable scenario. We had a client that deliberately wanted things to go wrong. We tried everything we could but by the end of the project, I knew that a bad rating was coming our way. My anxiety skyrocketed. Why was I not able to circumvent this? I could have sensed this with our team earlier. Oh, all the things we had done wrong. 

A couple of nights later, the negative rating showed up in my Slack channel. Past the initial shock, relief gradually flowed through my veins. Breaking the winning streak, liberated me from the responsibility of always delivering a positive rating. Working with someone who was unwilling to cooperate made me realize that as much as I could contribute towards a happy ending, how someone feels about our service is far from something that I can actually control.

The negative rating was the best thing that happened to me. It made me forget about ratings at all and focus on the real reasons of why I love my job. It made me realize that the ratings are great. Just as long as they are that. Just ratings. Not what I work for.