When looking at how companies measure employee performance, it’s clear that there is wide variation across the industry in terms of incorporating customer satisfaction into the mix. In past years, we have observed that companies were generally doing a poor job in linking employee performance to customer satisfaction. While improvements in this area have been seen recently, many companies are still struggling to enhance their process for linking performance to satisfaction. In a recent study conducted by Service Strategies, only 57 percent of companies say they tie staff performance directly to customer satisfaction, and even fewer link satisfaction to management compensation.

One of the key factors required to link satisfaction to employee performance is having sound methods to collect customer satisfaction data. Companies that have poor customer satisfaction measurement methods have trouble linking the results to performance since there is either not enough data or the data is suspect. Without a reliable foundation of results, employees will resist efforts to link their performance to customer satisfaction.

Companies that are successfully tying satisfaction to performance are doing so for several reasons. Consider the following suggestions when examining your customer satisfaction and performance management processes:

  • Collect enough customer satisfaction data to support evaluating individuals or teams. If there is not enough data to measure the individual, then setting goals and measuring performance at the team level is a viable and sometimes preferable alternative.
  • Set measurable goals for customer satisfaction rather than “soft” targets based on perception. Having weak references to customer satisfaction in a performance review does not focus employees on delivering higher levels of service.
  • Ensure that customer satisfaction is a highly weighted component of performance evaluations. The weighting should have a direct impact on compensation for the employees. If possible, put a bonus program in place to reward the staff for achievement of desired customer satisfaction results.
  • Tie performance objectives to employee controllable elements as well as overall satisfaction. These would include knowledge and expertise, professionalism, quality of solution, timeliness of status updates and other factors in an employee’s control.
  • Regularly review customer satisfaction results with the staff and include them on performance scorecards or other productivity reports. This will ensure they are aware of current performance and enable them to focus on areas that need improving.

Following these simple suggestions will have a positive impact on your overall customer satisfaction program and drive your staff towards delivering improved results on a consistent basis. Programs such as the Service Capability & Performance (SCP) Standards can help drive improvements in this area and will help set specific measurable targets for customer satisfaction.

Greg Coleman

Principal Partner and VP, Service Strategies Corporation