Imagine a scenario where you are finalizing the details of your new car purchase. The sales person says to you “You will be getting a survey shortly. I’d appreciate it if you return it with all 5’s or my bonus will get dinged.” Or, perhaps, the sales person may be bold enough to ask for your survey log-in and password so they can kindly “help you fill it out.” As we know, these scenarios aren’t fairy tales. They happen every day in dealerships, financial institutions, hotels, restaurants, and more. When incentives are involved, survey manipulation is a reality.
But not all manipulation is created equal – there is a continuum. Many organizations consider preemptive work with the customer to ensure complete satisfaction the work of a Customer Experience Superstar. While most organizations would agree that a threat to your house, family, and pets would lie solidly in the egregious part of the continuum. Numerous behaviors lie in between. Regardless, for all organizations, a line exists between what they consider appropriate and inappropriate. Once defined, the question becomes how to detect this manipulation.
To detect these master manipulators, it’s helpful to better understand who they are. We broadly characterize them into two segments – the Covert and the Overt manipulator.
The Covert Manipulator is the sneaky one. They work behind the scenes to take surveys multiple times, sometimes, on behalf of multiple customers. In industries such as automotive or investment services with performance incentives, these manipulators are employees. While in other industries such as quick service restaurants with survey incentives, they can also be employees. We have several ways to identify this manipulator including traditional methods such as examining customer contact records for duplicate or fake information. We can also tap into emerging technologies that identify when a computer has hit a site on multiple occasions through products such as eVerify, our digital fingerprinting technology. Given the high stakes risks of inappropriate compensation and result distortion from covert manipulation, Maritz has developed a SurveyGuard Portfolio to combat it. This portfolio includes both traditional and emerging tools to detect covert manipulation throughout the survey process from sample management to data analysis.
Our other manipulator, the Overt Manipulator, takes a more straightforward approach. These folks tend to be employees that inappropriately attempt to influence customer survey responses. They work to encourage, persuade, or even coerce the customer into providing positive scores. Most of us have probably witnessed this manipulator first hand. . . we have been sent a letter asking for certain scores or even shown a survey with pre-filled top scores. This type of manipulator risks damaging customer loyalty and brand perceptions. When the overt manipulator crosses the line, customers can feel annoyed, pressured, and even in severe cases violated. Monitoring actual customer comments provides our best shot at identifying those employees that cross this line.
Maritz has developed SurveyGuard Text, a pre-built, proprietary text analytic platform, that allows us to examine customer survey verbatims for those that indicate inappropriate coercing of customers. SurveyGuard Text allows us to easily screen large volumes of text responses for those situations where the employee did cross the line of appropriate behavior. These “needle in the haystack” comments can be quickly identified as red flag surveys. Not only can employees be identified for further investigation, but we can also identify affected customers that might need relationship management.
The SurveyGuard Portfolio and Survey Guard Text leverage both traditional approaches and new technological advances to help ensure appropriate compensation distribution and keep the organization focused on the right improvement priorities. But even more importantly, they help to protect future customer loyalty and secure your brand image.
So, tell us. . .Is your organization affected by Covert and/or Overt Manipulators? What approaches have you taken to combat them?