Tag Archive for customer feedback

Why Monitor A Problem If You Don’t Fix It?


Every time I see a LifeLock commercial, I think about our mystery shopping and customer feedback programs. There is one line that stands out:

“I’m not a security guard. I’m a security monitor. I only notify people if there’s a robbery…”

And their tag line: Why monitor a problem if you’re not going to fix it?

Sometimes companies will start a mystery shopping or customer feedback program with the best of intentions – they are excited about designing a program that will monitor and measure the customer experience, either from an operational or subjective perspective.

And then the first results come in, and key staff read every word, share with their employees, and wait expectantly for the next one. Then the program runs for a while, and…

Now what?

There have been times when a client’s program seems to take a turn – all of a sudden the overall performance scores are lower, or a particular location seems to have consistent complaints of slow service, incorrect orders, or some other issue. If it’s not improving, it’s time to figure out why.

There have been times where clients will admit they realize there’s an issue but haven’t directly addressed it for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they’re understaffed, or not sure how to handle the issue, or, they’re not really doing much with the data they’re getting. In that case, they are a lot like the security monitor noted above – they are alerted to an issue, but are not actively doing anything about it.

Below are some examples of ways customer experience data may not be used effectively, and some ways to overcome these challenges.


“Oh, we use the data. Every time a low score comes in the staff get in big trouble.” When I hear this, I want to cry a little. This is the absolute WORST way to deal with lower than anticipated performance on a mystery shop, especially if you are only focusing on the weaker performing evaluations. A consistent pattern of low performance signals something to dive deeper into for sure. By consistently using analytical reporting portals, you will be able to identify these areas for improvement and action. By only singling out the poor scores, you are setting staff up for failure. You are also setting the tone that any customer experience measurement is “the enemy” and this will leave a staff that has no interest in hearing the feedback or wanting to improve.

Instead, take a different approach: instead of calling out the staff for a poor score, celebrate the good ones. Call out the staff for the best shops or surveys in month’s period. For the weaker evaluations, compile enough data to pinpoint the issue(s) and create an action plan to make it better.


“We are supposed to have meetings on a monthly basis to discuss the data, but business has gotten really busy lately, so…” Sometimes it takes a village, but often there could be one point person who is solely responsible for aggregating the data from all customer measurement programs and provide regular reporting to key staff.

It is important to have regular meetings to discuss company wide issues as time allows, but that doesn’t mean nothing should be done in the meantime. Assign a point person who is responsible for distributing individual evaluations or feedback surveys, but also for looking at the back end analytics and providing key metric reports so that managers have a place to work from to make improvements.


“I know District Manager A is on top of the program for his/her stores. I asked District Manager B about the program, and he/she said they may have seen some shops come in but hasn’t really looked closely.” When staff are not on board with a program, they may tend to not take it as seriously. The fact is, whether you like it or not, the program will go on, so you may as well make use of it. If you are in a position to oversee District Managers, for example, talk with them on a regular basis and give them some guidance on how to best use the data. Remind key staff that it’s less about the individual results and more about the aggregated data across all programs. Show them how they can make improvements in customer experience that will directly affect customer experience, increased sales, and better overall performance for their stores.


“I saw the surveys coming in last night and noticed that several customers were requesting contact. Sounds like it was a bad night.” Yikes. Thanks to technology, managers can be alerted to issues in almost real time, and sometimes taking quick action can alleviate an issue from snowballing into something bigger. I recall a customer feedback program in which text alerts would be sent if a customer requested contact from a manager. One evening, the alerts were coming in fairly quickly in quick succession. On closer inspection, the majority were for one location, and, in reading through the surveys, it appeared that the restaurant’s drive thru was experiencing a wait long enough to cause customers to leave mid-line and in the restaurant, the dining area was not maintained and significantly slow service was being reported.

In this instance, in a perfect world, a manager could do a quick check in with the store as the feedback is coming in to see what quick fixes can be put into place. Then, as soon as possible following the shift, talk with the store manager in future detail to learn more about the issue and create an action plan to ensure it doesn’t happen again or, if it does happen again, what to do to resolve it as quickly as possible.


Data is valuable, and not using it can be detrimental. Hindsight is 20/20; don’t be the one to look back and think, “If only we had paid attention to the data coming in….” Take advantage of your monitoring programs and act when needed – your customers will thank you.




A Fresh Set Of Eyes For One DMV




Going to the DMV is never a pleasant experience – they are noted for long wait times, unpleasant staff, and other issues that cause dread in people needing to visit.

The DMV in Connecticut is making some big changes.  Commissioner Michael Bzdyra was recently appointed to the position, and after a close look at operations with what he refers to as “a fresh set of eyes” is making some sweeping changes to help improve the consumer experience, some of which include:

  • Conducting focus groups and surveys to learn more about why consumers aren’t utilizing the online services
  • Streamlining the telephone system to cut down on inefficiencies and wait times for callers
  • Creating accountability by appointing a Chief Operating Officer. Along the same lines, he is working to improve the training procedures at the facilities

These are three of the major changes coming based on a recent article. In this case, it’s a great opportunity for a new person to step in and take a look at overall operations from a fresh perspective; that is one step in fixing some of the general issues that can arise.

For your business, is it possible to implement changes and find a “fresh set of eyes” without changing key staff?

Absolutely. Here are a few tips:

  • Similar to what this DMV is doing, take an objective look at processes in place. Now is a good time to ask employees for feedback and look at customer feedback survey data – any trends or consistent trouble spots? If so, you now have a starting point.
  • Get a fresh set of eyes from outside the company. Hiring a mystery shopping service to get a baseline snapshot of the customer experience can give greater insight as to areas of strength and weakness. Couple the data from this baseline study with the results of your employee & customer feedback.
  • Keep staff accountable. Once you have done the above steps, it’s time to lay out a plan to make improvements, renew training initiatives if needed, and then create a consistent measurement system. Mystery shopping is just one way this can be done; consider quality control monitoring of your call center, manager spot checks, or even spot check evaluations to collect objective data about the customer experience. Analytical reports can be used to continually monitor and gauge performance across staff, locations, or geographies. Use this data in performance reviews, training sessions, and incentive programs for maximum effectiveness.

For the Connecticut DMV, it will take some time before the benefits of the sweeping changes will be seen. However, this new Commissioner is doing things right, and it will pay off in the long run.


No Survey For You!


I’m a fan of customer feedback surveys – when done correctly, companies can gain some very valuable feedback. Does your company have consistently glowing feedback, with little to no negativity? Before you pat yourself on the back, make sure the way customers are being invited to take the survey are truly collecting information that is not skewed in any way.


Below are a few real life examples that have surprised me to see, causing me to wonder what the data collection looks like on the back end.


1. “No survey for you!” – I was recently waiting in line to complete a transaction. I overheard the employee ask a guest several people ahead of me how they would rate his service. She replied, “good” and he asked for a number between one and ten, with ten being the highest. Awkward, right?


She says “I guess a ten. It was good” and I watched him print the receipt, circling the QR code at the bottom of the survey. He then encouraged her to take the survey and share her rating there.


Being in the industry I am, I was thankful that I had customers ahead of me to watch what happens next. The next three customers were asked the same question, and the process repeated – receipt, QR code circled, mentioned the survey.


The woman in front of me was having a bad day, and was not happy with the wait. When it came time to answer the question, she shared her displeasure with the wait and that there was not more help. He asked her to clarify with a number and she said, “Maybe a 4 or 5.”


Can you guess what happened next?


The employee printed the receipt, handed it to her, and wished her a good day. No circling on the receipt, no mention of the survey. I’m sure the QR code was there, but it wasn’t highlighted or mentioned in any way, maybe in hopes that this customer wouldn’t take it.


2. “I really need a raise” – another example is similar to the one above. While making a purchase at a retail store, the cashier ends the transaction by asking if I had a good experience. She then asks me to complete a survey and rate her high because the company is looking at the results and will be basing raises for the new year on the results. She writes her name on the receipt and asks me to give her a good review because “she really could use the extra money.”


3. “Please don’t tell me how I feel, or stretch the truth” – One cashier ended the transaction by circling the URL at the bottom of the receipt, explaining that if I give the company a 9 or 10 rating, I will entered into a monetary drawing.


Having shopped at this store for a long time, I know they’ve had the monetary drawing for a while now; adding the “rate us high and you’ll be entered” send a couple of wrong messages. One, they only want the high ratings, and two, the only way you could be entered is to give a high rating. So what if I give them a 5? Do they throw out my response? Or do they keep it but I don’t get a chance to win?


The best way to get the most accurate feedback is to make sure employees are encouraging customers to take the survey during each and every transaction. It’s good, in theory, to tie incentives to the results, but be careful of how that translates with your staff. As an additional measure, incorporate this type of information into your performance reviews or mystery shopping program – incorporate a question that asks if the employee mentioned the feedback survey, and if so, if it was handled objectively.


Feedback is great when collected correctly; make sure your invitations come with no strings attached!