Flash! Business has learned the value of customer ratings; or Using the carrot and  a stick approach to management and control 

I had just come home from a shopping exercise.  I made one small purchase.  My “shopping assistant” was very helpful and I commented offhandedly, “I hope they pay you well?”

“Alas, no,” he said. “I don’t quite get minimum wage, plus they keep my hours low so they don’t have to pay benefits.  In fact, I work three of these types of jobs to keep my young family going.”

Walking up to the pay counter, I told the cashier,” I wish there was some way of thanking the young man for his assistance.  Her face lit up:

“There is,” she exclaimed!  Just go to the website listed on the bottom of your receipt, go online and you can take a survey and place his name on it.  He’ll be delighted, I’m sure!  Do one for me if you like.  My name is Jamie.”

Some weeks later I was talking with the store manager where I do much of my basic merchandise shopping.  I told her about my earlier experience filling out the “satisfaction” form.  I asked whether they had such a program.

“Of course we do,” she replied.  “By the way, how good was your evaluation on a scale of 1-5?”

“I remember giving 4 5s and a 4.”

“Oh,” she replied.  “Then you shouldn’t have bothered.”

“Why,” I asked.

“Because the only ones management probably uses are the straight 5s.  He probably got dinged for your “bad” review.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” I replied.

“No, I’m serious,”   she said.  “In fact, in our store, upper management uses these ratings to compare store performance to other stores in the chain.  It’s one of the factors rating not only store performance, but individual performance to goal. It can even impact performance bonuses.  Bottom line:  It’s just another hammer in upper management’s tool kit.”

“But, hold on; who gives all 5s,” I protested.”  “I wanted to praise the young man, not damn him!”

Now, my store manager friend was upset: “You want to play the game? Then learn the rules,” she retorted.

So, I asked a couple of other managers I knew in other industries.  Yeh, they said, one adding:  “So what?”


I can’t help it!  Now, every time I get a “How’d we do?” notice, I ignore it.  I feel like an aggregate statistic existing as a management ploy.  I would like to fill these surveys out, thinking I am participating in helping the company do a better job serving their customers.  But, I don’t feel that way, so I don’t bother.  In fact, I am bothered that I have to spend time deleting this auto response trash.  At least I’m not hurting anyone or putting unintended pressure on someone.  Maybe I should have caught on sooner.  I never get any response stating my thoughts were appreciated – or read, for that matter.  Not even an auto response!  Not even from the president!


There is always “the other side” of the issue.  I haven’t talked with “upper management.”   So, how do you as an owner-manager use your “How’d We Do or Tell Us How We’re Doing,” tools?

Do you use them?  If so, for what purpose?  Does anyone in your organization read the replies?  How do you use the aggregate information elicited?  Do you use the results as a “Management hammer, in your management control tool kit?”

Just to be upfront, if you answered any of these questions with less than a 5, don’t bother to reply.


Que La Paz Prevalezca en la Tierra! May Peace Prevail on Earth!



Part of the Business Ethics series, “The Human side of Business.”