“Please rate me a 10 or I’ll get into trouble.” Sound familiar?

Computer Screen, concept of online survey

I just moved. As in any move, I had to set up my Internet, utilities, and buy a few appliances. If you’ve bought anything recently, either online or in-person, you’re likely to be asked to complete a short customer survey.

I have no problem completing customer surveys. In fact, I always complete customer surveys because I’m in the survey business. I know how difficult it is to get enough people to participate in a study. So I happily oblige.

However, how valid are the survey results? Here are my experiences.

All three of the service delivery persons told me that I’d receive an online survey about their services. They asked me to rate them a “10” on the survey.

“Please, you need to give me a 10. Anything less than 10 I’ll get into trouble.” A delivery person said.

Thankfully, all three of the service delivery persons were indeed great. They were courteous, on time, and properly installed the services I ordered. I happily gave them a “10” rating.

What if their services were less than optimal? I probably would not have rated them “10.” But would I feel slightly guilty because they’ve asked me to rate them 10 or else they’d get into trouble? Maybe.

How reliable are the survey results if the person being evaluated prompts the respondents to rate them all “10” instead of being neutral? How could these inflated ratings help company leaders take action to address any issues they may have?

In one case, I was truly surprised by how a net promoter score question is asked at the end of the survey. Again, the survey asked me a few questions about the service delivery. They were all fine questions and I rated them favorably. Next came the net promoter score question:

“Based on your experience with our service delivery, how likely are you to recommend our service to your friends and family? Please rate from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is absolutely likely.”

Here’s the story. I would have rate them a 4 if they were to ask me, based on my overall experience, how likely I were to recommend their services. Although their product quality is good, their customer service is not. Their website navigation was confusing. I was caught in an infinite loop just trying to get to a page where I could order my service online. I had to call them to confirm my order, only to find out that my selected date of delivery was no longer available although it was available when I ordered my service online. Yes, the service delivery person deserves a 10, the overall experience of my interaction with the service provider does not.

I sure hope that they do not extrapolate the NPS score for the service delivery person to the entire service experience. The false sense of excellence may just prevent this company from doing what is really needed—improve the overall customer service experience.

What questions are you asking in your customer surveys or employee surveys? Are they valid? Are you asking unbiased questions that enable you to take action?