More than a decade of grousing about product management

The Cult of Customer Satisfaction

Rating and reviewing customer experiences has become excessive and meaningless, with companies desperately begging for top scores and even withholding raises based on satisfaction scores.

It is everywhere you go, and everything you do. You are being asked to rate your experience. Silly solitaire app on your iPhone? Rate it. Bought some Melatonin on Amazon? Rate it. The goal is laudable, that which you don’t measure can’t be improved, (paraphrased from Deming) and everybody is on board. Heck the whole discipline of CRM is tied to it. Customer RELATIONSHIP Management.

I posit that it has gone too far. How often are you given notes to “remind” you to dish out 5’s (or the best score)? These whiny messages, begging for the top score are really the icing on the cake.

Heck, after a preview trip scheduled by our relocation company on a recent move, I made the mistake of rating only 3 out of 5. Two days later a senior VP called to grill me on my score (I dinged them because they refused to pay for the $9.95 internet in the room).

My first experience with this was when I worked for Cisco Systems. There everything you did got a survey. Called IT to fix a DNS issue? 5 minutes later you would get a bingo card survey in email. The group I worked in did field training. Lots of rating opportunities there. My performance review was intricately tied to my overall customer satisfaction score. I recall it being 4.2 (out of 5). They seriously didn’t give me a raise because I couldn’t raise it to a 4.4 or 4.5. Talk about meaningless.

My last car service was horrible. Expensive. Terrible service, and ignorance by the service technician and advisor. And the advisor has the cajónes to call me, at home, on Sunday, to remind me to rate my experience and himself as “excellent”.

So, I wrote a gnarly negative (but truthful) review on Yelp.

Take back the control.

Written by

A crusty veteran from the product management trenches. Plenty of salty language, references to cannabis, and a connoisseur of White Russian cocktails

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Written by pmdude