Asking Customers for a High CX Score? It’s Not a Good Idea

How often have you been to a service provider and asked to give a high CX score on your customer experience? They are almost begging! For example, think about what typically happens at your car dealership. The salesperson says, sometimes subtly and sometimes not, “If you can’t give me a 10, let me know why, so I can correct it.” It sometimes happens in a hotel room where a card says somewhat the same thing. As you can see, these are blatant attempts to improve the customer’s rating on the service experience.

Do they work?  Research suggests not and in quite emphatic terms.

Psychological Reactance Theory and Baited High CX Scores

Psychology of Marketing studied the impact on the customer experience when frontline service providers actively sought to influence customers’ evaluation of a service experience versus when they did not. The key results of the study are quite interesting. Customers asked to provide a positive assessment versus those who were not to give a glowing report showed:

  • Lower levels of satisfaction with their experience,
  • Less willingness to repurchase, and
  • Less willingness to provide positive word-of-mouth intentions.

Why this impact? The authors used the term “psychological reactance theory.” In layman’s terms, by trying to influence the customer’s evaluation of the service, their ability to control the situation is reduced.

As a result, the customer now sees the entire experience in a more negative light because of this loss of control and, thus, be less satisfied and fail to do some of the things that a truly satisfied customer would.

What are the Implications?

For those organizations working to improve service, there are several implications or messages:

  • Be careful as to how much pressure is placed on frontline service providers. Without proper monitoring they could wind up trying to manipulate the customer and have the service experience be a more negative one than would otherwise have been the case.
  • It is appropriate to ask for improvement ideas. Customers are usually more than willing to provide them. In other words, think about this reaction in the context of the customer wanting a choice. If they feel pressured to give a score, you have reduced their choice. Customers seldom like this.
  • It takes a lot of effort to improve service. However, don’t allow some of these great efforts to improve be undone by an overzealous approach to getting a score.

Having a positively memorable customer service experience and getting a high CX score are two different things. Please do not confuse them.


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