“Thank you for calling XYZ Widgets. Can I help you?” CLICK.

How many times has that happened? A person works through a myriad of push buttons that would puzzle the most obsessive Sudoku junkie and then, after 15 minutes of finger exercise when they finally reach an actual person the line inexplicably goes dead. Who’s to blame? Is it the fault of the telephone company? Has technology once again run amok? It’s more likely that the caller has been the victim of a poorly thought out Customer Service Performance KPI.

It works something like this. Call Center operators are largely unsupervised, sitting in a cubicle answering hundreds of calls a day. Even though the calls are occasionally monitored the vast majority of the time the operator knows that no one will be listening in. So what motivates the quick hang up? Because the operator knows that the monthly performance bonus is based on one thing and one thing only: how many calls are processed in a given shift? Whether the customer is actually satisfied or not is practically irrelevant. That only relevant factor is the number of calls “processed,” not whether or not those calls are effective.

A similar scenario takes place when the order comes down from the executive offices that no call should take longer than 13 minutes (or some other arbitrary number) to complete. The call center employees’ performance bonus is based on clearing calls quickly and “efficiently.” That’s all well and good until a major issue comes up that takes longer than 20 minutes and then, suddenly the previously helpful call center rep is doing everything possible to hustle the caller off of the line.

As long as Customer Service Performance KPI is based on the quantifiable rather than the true level of satisfaction of the Customer, these scenarios will continue to frustrate the buying public. That is why many companies have introduced a more reliable system of measuring Customer Service Performance. These new KPI more accurately reflect whether or not the Customer actually feels like they have received a level of service that meets their needs. These models look something like this: When the clients’ questions have all been answered a series of questions are asked by the Customer Service rep. “Are you satisfied with the responses to your queries?” “Were your questions answered adequately and professionally?” “Is there anything else we can help you with today?” Sometimes these questions are asked by the rep themselves and sometimes a follow up call is made by a supervisor or another rep. The employeesprimary KPI is based on the customers answers to these questions.

The more often primary Customer Service KPI is based on mere quantity, the less true Customer Satisfaction is going to take place. The only accurate KPI for Customer Service Performance is the actual perception of the Customer as to whether or not they received adequate service.