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Avoid the Blame Game in Customer Service

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 agent 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 contact resolution (FCR) 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.

 CSAT survey

While frontline staff represent your service center 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 agent’s fault unless that agent 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.

This article originally appeared in HDI's SupportWorld.