We’ve all been through an experience where a salesperson pressures you into giving them a “10” on a survey. This is the classic car dealership approach. And now AT&T stores are doing it too.

Survey illustrationA few weeks ago I went into an AT&T store to get a new phone. My experience was just fine until the end; I was walked to the door by the salesperson who asked me to give him a great rating on his service. That left me with an icky feeling.

When you tie metric goals to reward or recognition, employees naturally want to perform and score well. However, you know some may try to “game the system” – car dealers aren’t the only ones. My point here is not to say employees are bad people. Many people live under the constant pressures to maximize income to help pay for bills at home, put children through school, pay off loans or whatever else.

I’ve have firsthand experience of the pitfalls of employees chasing numbers. When I ran an internal call center, employees were recognized for keeping calls at 2 minutes or less in talk time. Guess what? Employees hung up on customers at the 2 minute mark. That’s why I was hired, to focus on building customer relationships, not chase internal numbers that created customer angst and lowered customer and business value.

All this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use surveys or have metric goals or incent employees to deliver the best service. You should. But, be wise about what metrics you choose and how you tie in reward or recognition. Be wary of metrics that can be gamed at the expense of the customer!