Survey appeals....not so appealing

Customer Experience

Survey appeals....not so appealing

Andrew Dye
Andrew Dye
June 8, 2022
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Customer Experience (CX) programs aim to capture feedback from as wide a range of customers as possible. Occasionally, such feedback will be influenced by a situation that was difficult for the service provider to control, or perhaps reflects unrealistic customer expectations.

In such scenarios, some CX programs have a mechanism for service providers to ‘appeal’ the inclusion of the response in their results.

Unfortunately, an appeals process does the following:

  • Effectively says that the customer’s feedback (given of their own free will, in their own time) does not count
  • Encourages service providers to scrutinize survey responses with the sole aim of getting some of them excluded
  • Drives a focus on the aggregate score, to be ‘improved’ by appeals, rather than dealing with individual customers and their issues
  • Occupies senior management time reviewing and adjudicating such appeals

Across more than three decades in the CX game, I’m confident that I’ve never seen a customer’s situation improved by an appeal.

Along with incentives and coaching, appeals detract from a focus on the real customer, who is still out there in the real world, ready to give their opinion on their experience to others.

All an appeal achieves is a pretence that the customer doesn’t exist, while inflating the apparent score via their exclusion.

It would be much better if service providers used the time to instead understand the customer’s situation and work out how it could have been better handled.

We have extensive research and analysis of situations where good customer management has resulted in customers being more satisfied when issues arise than when they do not.

For example, if the product is delayed, or has faults, provided that the service provider keeps the customer updated, minimizes impact on their time, and is honest in their communications, the customer can go away happier than if the product was on time and faultless.

So, one option with dissatisfied customers is to claim that the situation is ‘out of our control’ and try to have the survey appealed. The other is to work out how to better manage the situation, for the benefit of all future customers.

Only one of these is more likely to drive improved business performance, and it certainly doesn’t involve appeals.

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