Scoring Customer Experience: Ask The East German Judge

The lettering on the lawn sign read, ‘do not walk on the grass.’  If the sign was a business euphemism for not upsetting the apple cart, most people’s shoes would be free from grass stains.  My shoes would be dripping chlorophyll.

Not too long ago the Olympic Games weren’t so much a global sporting competition as they were a global competition between good governments and evil governments.  Although over a hundred countries participated, the only three that mattered to Americans were us, the Soviet Union, and East Germany.

It was a given that the Soviets would win the ice hockey gold medal and the U.S. would win the basketball gold medal, and the East German men would win gold medals in women’s swimming.

Like in today’s Olympics, judges scored events like gymnastics and boxing.  Subjective scores left up to the whims, biases, or fears of the judges.  The American judges probably had some built-in bias against the Soviet and East German competitors, and the Soviet and East German judges were biased against the American athletes.  In an attempt to prevent those biases from skewing the athlete’s performance, the highest and lowest scores were not counted.

When a U.S. judge gave a high score to a communist athlete’s performance, the worst that would happen is that fans of the U.S. athlete would boo the judge. If an East German judge scored an American athlete’ performance too high, that judge ran the risk of being shot.  If the judge’s score was way too high, that judge ran the risk of having to live in the Soviet Union.

Scoring is subjective. “Your call may be recorded for quality purposes.”  In other words, the people with whom you speak at a call center will be scored based on how well they performed on the phone.

An employee, or perhaps a panel of employees, listens to the call center agent’s performance and scores that performance.  Fortunately for the call center agents, it is considered bad form to shoot poor performing agents.

This approach is like focusing on the quality of the match that started a forest fire.  We know a lot about the agent’s performance.  We know nothing about the experience of the caller.  We don’t know how many times the person called about the issue.  We don’t know if the caller’s issue was resolved.  We don’t know if the reason the person called was that they could not do what they needed to do online.

Companies are experts at improving the performances of their call center agents—scoring matches.  They have less much expertise when it comes to understanding how their patients and customers would have scored those same agents.

Maybe they should have asked the East German judge.

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