Lessons in bonusing the Customer Experience measures

by Colin Shaw on March 21, 2012
 Lessons in bonusing the Customer Experience measures

Sometimes things never change…. a number of years ago, when I was a Senior Executive responsible for Customer Experience at BT, I was presenting to my colleagues on our Customer satisfaction survey results. I informed the team I felt the ‘Voice of the Customer’ was being ignored by people in our organization and no one was really doing anything to improve the scores. I made the case that because the ‘Voice of the Customer’ score only accounted for 5% of people’s bonus everyone effectively ignored it. I went on to explain that the excepted culture was to prioritise other targets, ie: sales revenue. This was because people could earn much more money by focussing on these areas and ignore the ‘Voice of the Customer’. The room was silent. As I looked around I could see the ambivalence in people’s faces. I wasn’t expecting what happened next. One of my fellow Senior Exec members said “I agree with you Colin, we don’t do anything with it. In fact I agree with you so much that I think we should stop undertaking the Voice of the Customer survey and save the money, it’s a waste of time.” I was flabbergasted. But the reality was this what most people thought. It was an annoyance. Their job was to sell stuff. Customer satisfaction was nice in theory, but didn’t form part of their daily life. I knew my work was cut out for me following that meeting….

In my experience of working in Customer Experience for ten years, I have been gratified to see that more and more companies are implementing a ‘Voice of the customer’ programme. My worry is many organizations suffer from the same issue . I do not believe most organisations are really ‘bought into’ the actions and changes required. My experience shows that in far too many cases the attitude I faced 10 years ago is still prevalent today. The danger is that a ‘Voice of the Customer programme’ becomes a ‘tick the box’ mentality. In other words, people see everyone else is doing it, so they decide to do it as it’s the ‘right thing to do’. But then nothing happens with the results. The real question is not ‘do you have a Voice of the Customer programme’, but what do you do with it!

To do something with it, you need to make it important to people. We all know the old phrase ‘what gets measured gets done’. I agree but I would add, ‘ and what people get paid for gets done even more!’

This is a critical point. It is vital that you make ‘Voice of the Customer’ measures part of everyone’s measures, and I mean everyone; Finance, HR, everyone. But you should also make it part of people’s pay. A recent client which Forrester has recently written a case study on is a good example. Whilst their CE programme was multifaceted it critically included changing employee’s measures and making Customer Experience measures account for upwards of 30% of their bonus. In 2 years they have moved their Net Promoter score from -10 to +30. A 40 point move! You can do the same, if your company takes ‘Voice of the Customer’ measures as seriously as they did.

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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