Quite often (I would go far as to say too often) when you go shopping – either physically or online – you are asked to complete a customer satisfaction survey: “Please rate our service on a scale of 1 to 5”
Did you know that when the results are analysed, a regional bias is often applied? In the USA, if the service was as expected the customer will give a score of 5 out of 5. In the UK – and probably the rest of Europe – this level of service would receive only a 4. We leave the 5 for when the service is over and above what we expect – they have gone the extra mile. So, a string of 4’s in the UK is good; in the US, it is under-performing.
I think that the European approach is better – if you give to marks for good service, how do you recognise excellent service?
Incentive for Customer Service
At a branch of a national vehicle servicing chain I was asked to indicate my level of satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. “Your rating is converted to points and the branch with the highest score at the end of the month gets a prize”, it was explained. “We get three points for a 4 or 5; four for a 6 or 7; and 5 for an 8, 9 or 10” (or something like that – this may not be an exact description of the scheme).
OK, so if the end result to you is the same for three different bands, why should I bother to differentiate between a 60% or 70% level of satisfaction? More to the point, how does this provide an incentive for an excellent level of service? Why make the effort to make me 100% satisfied when you get the same reward from making me only 80% satisfied?
I should maybe add that this visit wasn’t the occasion when the branch lost my car keys – I don’t think I rated them very highly on that occasion!
Praise and Over-praise
Giving well-deserved praise is good. It generally promotes still better performance (which was the general gist of my school’s motto “virtus laudata crescit”). But too much praise causes it to lose its effect.
I remember as a small and timid first-former (year seven) the music teacher would extol my work with “that’s really good, Chippy, well done”.
“Wow!” I thought, “I’ve impressed the teacher; I must be really clever and understand music”. Until I noticed that he used the same reaction to everyone – he didn’t really mean it at all.
Applause or ovation?
What level of praise is appropriate at the end of a live performance? Traditionally, an audience greeted the end of a performance with applause – clapping for a good performance and cheering for a really good performance (note: cheering, not whooping; whooping is for American audiences). Standing ovations were strictly reserved for the really, really good.
But in recent years, I’ve noticed a steady increase in the level of audience reaction. Standing ovations now appear to be the norm rather than the exception. As people around me get to their feet, I am sometimes left thinking “yeah, it was good – but it wasn’t that good”. But feel obliged to stand so that I don’t appear to be miserable amongst my peers – that and the fact that I can no longer see the stage.
A standing ovation in these circumstances isn’t a true reflection of the mood of the audience. It isn’t the performance that brought the audience to their feet; it’s because a few people stood and everyone else copied so they wouldn’t look out of place.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily get to my feet – and have done – when I have watched something truly spectacular. But if it as good as I expected I would prefer to stay in my seat. Otherwise, how can I show my appreciation when I’ve seen something truly outstanding?
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