Avoid the Blame Game in Customer Service


by Roy Atkinson
August 4, 2016

I often fill out customer surveys. I like to think my feedback matters. So when I run into a survey that asks question after question about the agent or analyst who assisted me, I stop, unless I had a particularly good or very bad experience with that person. This type of survey makes me feel like the company is asking me to do performance reviews for them.

Surveys that focus on individuals are setting up the blame game. Customer service representative Cynthia or Jerome isn’t why I called in the first place. They are not personally responsible for the 10 minutes I spent on hold listening to a recording telling me how important my call is and how much better my life could be if I went to the website, which is where I came from. In other words, it wasn’t the representative’s fault that I was frustrated and a bit angry by the time they picked up the phone (or chat, or email). The analyst, agent, or representative should not end up being the focus of the entire customer satisfaction program at any organization.

Jerome/Cynthia was polite, businesslike, professional, and maybe even friendly, but that didn’t solve my problem. Maybe he or she couldn’t solve my problem—not because of any lack of skill, but because frontline personnel in so many organizations aren’t given the authority or access they need to make things right. Having been a frontline analyst myself, I know how demoralizing it can be to say, “There’s nothing more I can do for you.” The ticket gets escalated, and first level resolution (FLR) is a little lower this week.

Customer satisfaction surveys should be short and should ask about things that contribute to continual improvement in the quality of service and the customer experience.

Instead of asking…Consider asking…
Was the analyst polite? Did you receive the service you expected?
Was the analyst professional? Was the analyst empowered to resolve your issue?
Did the analyst resolve the issue in a timely manner? Were you back to work as quickly as you expected to be?
How satisfied are you with this interaction? How satisfied are you with the quality of IT services?

While frontline staff represent your IT department or even your entire operation, they should not be blamed for failures that are almost always out of their control. Surveys should not be asking customers or users to judge what is an analyst’s fault unless that analyst is rude or obviously incompetent. Study after study has shown that customers primarily care about one thing when they contact customer service or technical support: getting their issue resolved.

The HDI Customer Satisfaction Index Service helps you measure and benchmark your customer satisfaction ratings with a user-friendly, secure, web-based service.

 


Roy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for SupportWorld articles and white papers. In addition to being a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee and the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board, Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and is well known to HDI local chapter audiences. His background is in both service desk and desktop support as well as small-business consulting. Roy is highly rated on social media, especially on the topics of IT service management and customer service. He is a cohost of the very popular #custserv (customer service) chat on Twitter, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 9, 2014. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson.


Tag(s): customer experience, customer satisfaction, customer service, supportworld, service quality

Related:

More from Roy Atkinson :


Comments: