Creepy customer service measurement

Oscar Wilde famously defined a cynic as a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I was reminded of this at a bank this morning when I went to the counter to make a transaction. The cashier struggled to get the IT system working but eventually got the job done.

Then she said I might be telephoned later and asked to rate her service… and would I be able to give her a 7? (I overheard another customer being asked the same question; she kindly offered to score a 9 or 10… but apparently 7 was the maximum. Not Spinal Tap then.)

This is the first time I’ve run into this in a live setting but it happens quite a bit with call centres.

I really dislike it. I feel instantly sorry for the staff who I imagine find this a bit demeaning and I know I feel a bit demeaned by it too. It’s as if anonymous management don’t trust either of us to manage a simple human relationship.

If I participate, my answer will almost certainly be a top score as I fear there will be direct repurcussions for the staff otherwise.

The whole thing feels creepy to me. Of course it gives the managerialists yet more numbers over which to pretend influence, but I think their value will be at best much less precise than managers would think. And, as is so often the case with these systems, there is no measure of the downsides that can’t be measured but are real – for staff and customer morale.

I don’t much like being lured into this kind of game and I realise I’m not going to play next time.

I am not a number, and neither are the people behind the counter.

2 thoughts on “Creepy customer service measurement

  1. Mike Wagner

    Thanks for sharing this story.

    Towards the end of my tenure at Saturn (the US car company now demised) there was something similar going on.

    Customer Service Indexing scores (CSI) was the basis for the game.

    You’re right, it’s a demeaning game and one many of us refused to play.

    Is this all about substituting measurement for solid leadership?

    Keep creating…and refusing to play,


  2. Alistair Vince

    I was in Shanghai a few weeks ago and this reminded me of what greets you when you get off the 12hr flight. When you get to passport control, a little machine on the desk lights up after you’ve been given you passport back with a selection of faces with different expressions on. You’re being asked to rate your experience. I feel sorry for the guys – passport control is rarely a happy time, and if you include the inevitable queue, after the 12 hr flight, then they’re starting in a low place initially anyway.

    Repurcussions for staff? My thoughts exactly. Happy face selected.


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