Customer Feedback Management

3 Telltale Signs Your Customer Experience Incentive Program May Be Broken

Designing an informed and focused incentive program is a key part of a good customer experience strategy.



Trusted Experience Management Partners

“I tidied my room. Can I watch My Little Ponies now?”

This has been a familiar refrain in our household from our 6-year-old daughter, Josie, who understands that screen time is a reward for her weekly bedroom clean-up. 

“Make your room neat, Josie, and 30 minutes with Pinky Pie and Shutterfly is yours.”

It seemed to be working great. Until last week.

While Josie was getting a good dose of “Friendship is Magic,” I went into her room to put some laundry away and accidentally dropped a pair of socks. Low and behold, the truth was out! Dress-up clothes rammed under her bed, thousands of rainbow loom bands shoved under the rug, and art supplies and books hidden under her covers.

This was not the desired outcome of what we thought was a smart reward structure.3-telltale-signs-your-incentive-plan-may-be-broken


Seeing What’s Really Under the Covers

Quite apart from being a rookie mistake – one that parents with two older children should not have made – this was doubly embarrassing. Over the years I have been fairly outspoken about similar errors organizations make when setting incentive program goals and rewards around customer experience.

On the surface, their progress looks substantial – similar to Josie’s “tidy” bedroom – but when you look under the covers, the mess is still there.  

Here are three warning signs to look out for if you are concerned your improvements may not be reflective of reality:

  1. Your outcome measure (that means: Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, Customer loyalty, or other customer experience metrics) is on the rise, but:
  • The number of customer problems and complaints isn’t similarly declining.

  • Employee turnover is up or Employee Engagement scores are down.

  • Customer churn isn’t moving in the right direction.

If any of these patterns are present in your organization, this may mean your people are focused on the number, rather than the overall health of the customer experience ecosystem.

  1. Your VOC program looks like it did in 1978 (or when goals were first set). This is a big red flag because:

If your company is truly committed to improving the customer experience, then a willingness, even an appetite, to adapt and change will arise, even if it means re-setting the bar at a lower level.

  1. The good, the bad and the ugly of customer feedback is only made available to a chosen few.
  • Companies that democratize feedback, publish scores, and share success stories show employees a commitment to improving experiences, not the number alone.

Using feedback as opportunities for education, coaching and improvement can engage employees and improve the customer experience simultaneously.


Avoiding Metrics Myopia

Perhaps Josie took her shortcut approach because she didn’t have the right skills; perhaps it was an innocent misunderstanding; or perhaps, it was a desire to take the quickest route to receive her reward.

Whatever the motivation, a reward program for customer experience strategy (or clean bedrooms) is not something to be rushed into without careful thought, education and communication.

We’re on a mission to cure companies from metrics myopia and we want to share what we’ve seen work so you all can really clean the CX up. In a later post, I’ll share best practices for how to set improvement targets that make a real difference to your customer experience.

–Kate Feather

Voice of the Customer Buyer's Guide

Image Credit:

Topic: Customer Experience

Latest Articles

How to Get Started with Customer Experience Research Now

How to Get Started with Customer Experience Research Now

Customer experience research ensures your CX program stays up-to-date with your customers’ needs. Learn how to start a customer research pr...

The Melior Group Joins PeopleMetrics!

The Melior Group Joins PeopleMetrics!

I am thrilled to announce that PeopleMetrics has acquired The Melior Group. The Melior Group provides market research services, both qualit...

Improving Customer Experience in Banking: 7 Promising Trends

Improving Customer Experience in Banking: 7 Promising Trends

Creating experience in banking is constantly evolving. Stay up to date with competitors by exploring these seven promising CX trends in the...