Customer Experience

Why Coaching Is A Bad Thing

Andrew Dye
August 24, 2021
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I know that sounds odd, given how we’ve been told over the years that ongoing staff coaching delivers far better results than infrequent performance reviews.

And after seeing Dean Boxall celebrate Ariarne Titmus’s gold winning swim at the recent Tokyo Olympics, you’d think that coaching was a good thing, surely?

Except in the world of customer experience.

In this rarefied location (actually, almost every purchase and service transaction that we undertake), coaching is what happens when a service provider tells or advises a customer how they should respond to the inevitable follow-up survey. Something like the following:

  • I need you to give me a 9 or 10, otherwise I’ll be in trouble.”
  • Any score lower than 9 is no good to us.”
  • If you plan to give a score lower than 10, please call me first to discuss

You get the drift.

While you can understand what motivates such ‘advice’, given the reward and bonus structures that often apply, it immediately tells your customer two critical things:

  • I’m not confident in the level of service that we provide
  • I don’t trust you to recognize high quality service  

Not exactly a great return on a single sentence, is it? Undermining what you do and disrespecting your customer. Customer Service 101? Hardly.

Think back to how we learn things as infants. Trial and error. Make a mistake, change the way you do it next time, success! Do you think that Dean Boxall helped Ariarne Titmus to a gold medal by always giving her top marks in training?

We learn from our mistakes. If we’re trying to improve the service we provide, we need to hear what we’re doing well, as well as the areas where further effort is needed.

As such, we should be telling customers that we’d love to hear their feedback, warts and all, as it will enable us to iron out any wrinkles in what we’re doing.

Instead, all too often customers are coached towards giving a specific high score, as if this artificially derived pat on the back will improve the service offering. Sorry to burst that balloon, but it won’t.

If you’re lucky, it might yield a short-term target achievement, but who can blame the customers for going elsewhere in future, if you’re not identifying and fixing the weaker areas?

Think about that future customer, who might have been impressed at the service improvement you implemented, following some honest feedback from an existing customer. You won’t get that either.

Seek honest feedback, by all means, but don’t coach scores.

That way, down the track, you too can roll out your own exuberant celebration, ready to be a viral internet sensation. Or, at minimum, see your business develop and grow.

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