Customer Service 5 Star Rating Cartoon



Gallup is in the news recently for issues surrounding their polling processes used during the election where they predicted a 1 point lead for Romney.  Interesting my beef is not only with Gallup but any company that is involved with corporate polling to survey customer experience at retail establishments (banks, car dealers, etc).

You have all seen the signs:  “Strive for Five”, “Gimme 5”, or “High 5”.  I recently saw the strive for five sign at my local Kroger and reminded me of the incident above.   Of course I took artistic and creative license with it but the scenario was similar.   I went in for the second time for the same issue, had to wait longer than they told me to get my car and at the end the service manager practically begged me to give them fives.  He claimed they never got less than a 5 rating.  Thus is my problem with the way customer experience is tracked.

As someone who is familiar with statistics and employee engagement, I find it embarrassing that so many companies rely on quantitative data only.   It is great that they get a five in different areas, but why?   I have a friend whose company started using this as a way to track their engagement because they felt the higher the engagement with customers, the better their sales results.    Which I agree with.   Low performing locations saw their sales increase as their customer service scores did.  Most  likely, they weren’t doing what they should have been in the first place.  So that is good.  However, locations that were high performing could have passing or failing customer engagement scores from month to month.   There was nothing being tracked to say WHY the customers rated lower.

When I asked his opinion he said it was because the rating scale was outrageous.   Think about your own experiences recently at a restaurant, a store, etc.   On a five point scale, what would you rate it?   Normally if the service was good  I would give a four.  I tend to reserve fives for those that really “wow” me.   However, in some industries a 4.6 score is considered a failure.   REALLY?   You know how you get to a 4.6.  Ask ten customers to rate your company and have four of the ten give you a four rating and the rest give you a five.  Or have nine customers give you a five rating and one person who either had a bad experience or a chip on their shoulder give you a one.  Without additional information saying why you got the score you did, it is difficult to replicate the good behavior or check the bad.

So why is the failing grade so high?   Because companies like in my example above have learned to manipulate your behavior rather than improving their customer service.   Now instead of a four, I am shamed into giving them a five.  When you are face to face with a person asking you to give them a five, you feel an obligation not to be the one person that kept them from getting a raise or other compensation.   So you give them a five.   OR, in my case when the service is less than ideal, I might do you a favor and not answer the phone when your company calls to rate your service.  All that skews the data even higher.

So the top brass can brag about their high scores, but nothing really ever changes for the customer experience.   There are three questions that I learned in the beginning of my career that works well in both performance reviews and customer engagement.

  1. What would you like X to start doing?
  2. What would you like X to stop doing?
  3. What would you like X to continue doing?

Those three questions will get you stronger information than quantitative data alone ever will.

BTW, if any company that does this feels I am wrong in my analysis, I would love to talk to you about how your methodology works differently than described.

About Bearman Cartoons

Previous/Next Posts

89 Responses to “Customer Service 5 Star Rating Cartoon”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Colleen says:

    Don’t get me started on customer service evaluations. When I worked in tech support our holy grail was to close the case as quickly as possible. Here’s an exampe:

    Customer: My screen is black and I can’t set any options.
    Rep: OK go to preferences and check screen color white.
    Customer: OK, my screen is white now and I can see the menu.
    Rep: Good. Case closed. Next! (hangs up)
    Customer: But…..

    (calls back, has to go through the whole queuing process again. Gets a different rep. This rep helps him change a setting, then hangs up. The setting does not do what he expected in the software. So he calls again, this time he gets me. I ask him what the big problem is and spend 10 minutes listening to him describe his setup and his task, then I spend about five minutes simulating it and another five testing a solution. I spend five minutes guiding him through several interconnected settings and solve his problem. I get low ratings because I did not have a quick close time.)

  2. lisleman says:

    Your cartoon is right. I hate polling on most everything. The media and the audience don’t know statistics well enough to use it. They just misuse it. I like your three questions. Oh that could another cartoon, long surveys. After a few questions you start to check off quickly to get it finished.

  3. Honesty is the best policy, for suckers!

  4. Dave says:

    I don’t think I have been in a situation like that. Companies here in Germany don’t ask for ratings because if they did they would receive poor scores.

    The customer is never right and since that being the case why would they care about my opinion. They don’t care.

    Once I ordered a sandwich from a restaurant. There were customers coming in after me who got their food before me. I got my sandwich after a whole hour. It does take some time to get food in Germany but over an hour for a sandwich is crazy.

    I suppose the only place where I see people asking for a 5 is from WordPress plugin authors. I give them what they deserve.

    • lol…an hour. Well in Europe people tend to wait longer and stay longer in restaurants. Americans like quick in and out.

      • Dave says:

        I have grown accustomed to the pace of life here. Meals with friends take 2-3 hours. It’s such a shock for us when we travel back to the States and everybody scarfing down there food.

        I don’t know if we as Americans are scared to talk to each other, so focused on our food or something else.

  5. Jim says:

    So, ‘X’ marks the spot?

    I wonder what rating I should give a store, that has their smoke break area next to the propane tanks?

  6. Mark Stokes says:

    I think customer service is going the way of the Dodo.

  7. David Hurley says:

    I never answer the service evaluations unless it’s on-line.

  8. Steve Hall says:

    On a five-point scale, if you give me what I expect, you get a three. Now imagine what you need to do to get a five!

  9. Comedy Plus says:

    I so agree with your assessment. Asking those three questions could indeed get to the meat of their customer service. I’m guessing they already know that and they don’t want anything to do with it either. They like living with their heads in the clouds. Bless their hearts.

    Have a fabulous day. 🙂

  10. Bill Murphy says:

    As a consumer I read the review. The ones that are rated 0-1 usually do it out of anger. 5 usualy because they just want to be nice. It’s the 3 & 4 ratings that are usually the most honest.

    Bearman, ignore my comment above because I still want to give today’s comic a five star review! 😀

  11. Red Dwyer says:

    I am the Queen of Zero. Companies who routinely tick me off (No Daddy being the #1) ask for my opinion. I have gotten personal calls from “supervisors” at No Daddy, PayPal, Verizon and Choice Hotels. I am truthfully about why I score them the way I do. Many try to make it up by comping me, but poor service is not any better even if it is free.

    If you have not already, be sure to rate your experiences with the Stevie Awards. They are giving awards to these companies for their “stellar” CS. There have been a number of companies surprised when I CC Stevie Awards in my complaint emails.

    • Red Dwyer says:


      Ugh. I need more sleep.

      • Stevie Awards interesting. Most online review sites though tend to attract the complainers more than the real reviewers I find.

        • Red Dwyer says:

          Stevie is based on company’s email banks vs. number of completed satisfactory calls. IOW, if they have 400 CS calls and they can get get 380 5* reviews, they get 5* CS award (gold, silver or bronze).

          It is a terrific example of being awarded based on what you can manufacture from customer 5* which are generated by the company vs. outside sources.

          To me Stevie is the self-awarded CS award, but HUGE amount of customers believe it means this is a company they can trust to give them good service for the (nominal) fees they pay.

  12. I once worked as tech support for a company that had received an award for customer service four years in a row — breaking that streak with a non-winning award just the year before I was hired.

    Close to the end of our training, they took us into the hallway where they had the plaques from those four years on the wall. Our trainer pointed at them and said:

    “We won this award for FOUR YEARS RUNNING. During each of those four years, our average time spent helping a customer on a call was between eight and fifteen minutes. Last year, we got our average time-per-call down to FIVE minutes. I have no idea why we didn’t win, but this year we’re sure to win — we’re aiming to get our time-per-call down to THREE minutes.”

    During the few months I worked the phones, I handled call after call where it was the customer’s second, third, or fourth time around. Ninety percent of the time, the previous operator had told them to try unplugging their device and plugging it back in again, and to call back if it didn’t work so we could send them a replacement. The problem was almost always something that obviously couldn’t be solved by a forced reset, and the customers were ALWAYS angry with me when I suggested we could try a few more things before replacing the system.

    My average time-per-call was between fifteen and twenty minutes, but most of my callers wound up with their problem fixed at the end of the call. I caught Hell every week from the manager for having a long average time.

    Meanwhile, my cubicle neighbor advised almost every caller to “Try unplugging it and plugging it back in again, and call us back if it doesn’t work.” He received bonuses every week I worked there for having an average time-per-call of 2.5 minutes.

    Gee. I wonder why they suddenly stopped winning awards for customer service.

    • It is amazing what companies will do. They try to fix one thing while completely screwing up something else. It all ties back to recognition and compensation. Whichever is the least resistant road to get me what I want, I will take. That is why some calls get cut short because actually making the customer happy isn’t trackable.

  13. benzeknees says:

    I have no problem with giving a true score when rating someone’s performance. And if I give low scores I expect the company to call me back & ask why I rated their performance so low. It happened recently with my hubby, he was not happy with a company’s performance so he gave them a low rating when they called with their after service survey. The next day the company called & asked why. He told them & they gave us a gift for being honest & followed up with an email telling him how they addressed the issues he raised. To me, this is how it should really work.

    • Absolutely. But I think companies should also follow up on the high scores. Why did you give us that so we can be sure to keep doing the same thing

  14. Deb says:

    Oh man, does this sound familiar.

  15. Binky says:

    I just started using the services of a new company. I choose them because of their high ratings on a supposedly unbiased industry website. They messed up the very first thing they did for me. Then they tried to fix it by messing it up more. Then they tell me they fulfilled their obligation, so I had to fix it myself. They they messed up again. Then they completely denied that they did what they did. Luckily I knew enough to be able to fix it myself. Needless to say I am not impressed by their “great service”.

  16. oh the stupid people working for customer service, sometimes I feel they have robots working for them, same irritating voice and tone, same questions and replies no matter what your problem and most of the time they are completely in dark about things we are talking about..
    its a joke when they say the conversation will be recorded for learning process..i want to say sure if you want to flaunt your stupidity go ahead

  17. Nef says:

    Several election cycles ago, I was given a part time job at a political polling company. The way they kept the integrity of the polls was that we really didn’t know who had hired us to do the polling. The questions were framed in neutral terms, and we were not allowed to deviate from what was written. Also, we could only wear neutral color clothing, so no party colors could be guessed by the respondents. I thought it went well in general, as we could never figure out the intent of the questions (although we loved to speculate). It was very interesting.

  18. Christina says:

    This is a great cartoon! Our car dealership bullies us into doing customer reviews. They are like stalkers or something…

    Like you said, if reviews are skewed, are they really worth it?

  19. Ha! Shmucker shock.
    ‘As someone who is familiar with statistics’
    I’m relieved you went with a cartoon and not a spread-sheet here
    (the thought of that many numbers in the same place and at the same time is enough to make my eyes start to gloss-over)…

    • I like to present my lessons in the lowest common denominator. Excel spreadsheets would gloss over too many eyeballs

      • I don’t even remember the basic formulas in Excel anymore…
        not that my memory is ever very effective. Still, there are a lot of other things I’d rather retain (when it comes to grins, anyway).

  20. George says:

    I hate filling out Customer Service Surveys. Even if they give out web-exclusive incentives (and I’m always on the computer anyway), I still don’t wanna fill out a survey.

    I usually never say anything unless my service was extremely poor or tremendously above and beyond the call of duty. It’s preposterous that companies are now equating these rapid-fire emotional survey to actual job performance.

  21. Tony McGurk says:

    Customer surveys, Bah Humbug. You’ve done the job, you’ve got my money, now leave me alone…
    Great multi-panel comic. Now you can try giving us a multi-episode storyline. Love the sign in panel 2

    • Yeccch. That took way longer than I planned. It’s hard making someone look the same in multiple panels with multiple angles.

      • George says:

        But you’ve been doing so well with the multi-panels. I’m proud of you.

      • Nef says:

        Yep. Making someone look the same over and over is hard stuff. I am getting better at it, but still struggle. I usually bring references (often the last appearance of someone, but not always) to look at while working and still have to make a big effort.

        Sometimes I even recycle poses, using the old one as a sketch for the new inks.

  22. frigginloon says:

    EBAY!!! They all want excellent comments regardless of their services and get narky if you don’t. Nasty.

  23. Red Dwyer says:

    I asked a twenty-something his take on this:

    5* ratings are bullsh!t. What is a 5* rating when we have no idea what happened to honest work?

    Maybe I am getting through to the young whippersnappers yet. Meh.

  24. The only thing that I will rate customer service on is AAA when they do roadside assistance!

  25. Jande says:

    Mal and I were shocked by the behavior of the guys that delivered our new washer and dryer a few years ago from Sears. They did not call first to say when they’d be there. We had to call them numerous times, give them the directions more than once, and they made a slap-dash job of hooking up the machines. They were belligerent bullies as well as sarcastic liars, trying to convince us that they had called us a number of times and there was no answer. We checked the number they supposedly called and it was written correctly. They insisted it was because we weren’t at home. We insisted it was because they had dialed the wrong number or they hadn’t called. Tempers were flaring.

    As we were ushering them as quickly as possible out the door afterward, they handed Mal a clipboard and offered him a pen. What for? To sign a “Customer Satisfaction Evaluation Survey” form –one that they had already filled out giving themselves a glowing report! *blink* Say what? Mal refused. The delivery guy then told us we HAD to sign it. Mal told him where to stuff it.

    Much later we realised we should have called the store and reported their behavior. The Delivery guys probably just scribbled a signature on it themselves. As it was, that was the last thing we ever purchased from that store.

    I also have a friend who worked for two years (she was desperate!)For a Cel-phone customer service company. I won’t go into the gory details of how the employees were treated there. Certainly no one was happy. Not the customers nor the employees. My friend used to have to call her husband on every break in order to be sane enough to get through the next part of her shift. It took her two years to find a better job. Now she manages a health-food store and is extremely happy there.

    Soulless Corporations are the bane of humane existence.

  26. Jande says:

    I forgot to say how good your cartooning is looking these days! Each panel is a different perspective, and well done. Great expressions. ♥

  27. Tim Green says:

    I’d rather go to the dentist than an auto mechanic!

  28. Chris K says:

    Ah ha! That’s how they do it.

  29. Tyler says:

    Seems much more effective than actual effort!

  30. Bo Lumpkin says:

    In my experience 13 out of 9 polls or surveys are wrong 70 per cent of the time.

  31. Jo Ann says:

    Customer service? What’s that?

  32. You have a point. But consider also that it is a kids show. By the time they are adults they may have figure out things a bit more. Thanks for nice and great support…

  33. Nate Fakes says:

    I used to work at a car dealership, and every survey, if there were not 5 stars, it didn’t count. Four stars and a good comment did nothing.

  34. Andro says:

    There is no point in giving someone a five star rating if the level of service was way below a four or even a three, I mean what positivity can be gained for anyone in the longer term? I for one would never give someone a five if I was disappointed with their work, it just gives a false impression to the next customer that happens along, indeed it makes a farce of the whole system.

    I am surprised that a five would be offered regardless of whether or not the person in question would lose out as a result, I mean surely this only encourages the employee to work harder next time and to give a quality finish to a job for whoever is requiring their services.

    In the scenario where I am asked to give a rating of five when I only got a three I would probably score it as low as a two for them being so downright cheeky. If they get lots of fours and below then they are failing not only themselves as a company that offers good service, but more importantly they are failing their customers who rely on them to provide five star work, not a three star and then plead for a five, especially with the prices that they are charging. If they are hopeless then rate them as so…

    Well that’s what I think anyway Bearman 🙂


Previous/Next Posts