How will your company rate on the ‘Customer Worry Index’?

by Marc Sokol on September 23, 2011


Image by FlickrJunkie via Flickr

Admit it: You worry.

You worry that the new teller who just said “oops” when they mistakenly transferred your money from the wrong account will still get it wrong despite reassuring you it is now correctly transacted. You quietly shake your head as you walk to your car, noting to not go to that teller again.

You worry that the service rep, the 5th service rep with whom you are now speaking, has no idea how long you have been trying to get someone to give you a sense that your problem is understood and that they are authorized to help you.

You worry, that there is a minefield somewhere ahead, as the very enthusiastic people who just sold you a Nook e-reader, can’t actually answer any technical questions, and the nice young guy in the back of the store who can answer your questions (even though it’s not his real role) tells you that the technical people in Corporate really don’t know what they are doing either: “it’s hit or miss whether you get a helpful response from them”.

These aren’t random, isolated incidents; these are examples of customer experience going in the wrong direction. These seemingly small incidents create a level of anxiety that shakes brand confidence in service representatives, in companies, and even across entire industries.

Haven’t you noticed that with certain providers you worry something is bound to go wrong no matter how much the assure you, but for other providers you never worry: they say what they will do and do what they say.

So it is time to initiate a “Worry Index” within customer feedback surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Time to find out how much your company creates that added bit of anxiety for customers.

Ask your customers:

1. How often have you been worried we will not execute as expected when you have ordered a product or requested service from us?

2. If you have ever received a message from us clarifying an order, did you worry that your order would still not be processed as you had originally expected?

3. How often do you feel confident that our company and its employees will meet or exceed your expectations?

Response to the first statement, ideally, should be ‘never’.

Response to the second statement should be ‘no’.

Response to the third statement, ideally, should be ‘always‘.

And if responses indicate that your customers are worried, you now have the opportunity to probe for the reasons behind their concern.  Clarity of communication, an explicit plan to follow through on commitments, personalization of messaging in emails, and clear ownership for getting the order correct — absence of any of these can increase the anxiety of customers, over time leading to a lower score on the Worry Index.

Wouldn’t you like to know what leads your customers to worry about the delivery of the goods and services you provide to them?

What would you ask customers if you wanted to assess their ‘Worry Index”?

BestCustomerConnection, by Marc Sokol

My gratitude to Maz Iqbal, who writes The Customer Blog: his recent post, How to excel at Customer Experience and customer-centricity: 3 tips, was a stimulus for my writing about the “Worry Index”.

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 1 trackback }

Why do only a handful of companies excel at cultivating customer loyalty? « THE CUSTOMER BLOG
September 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

maz iqbal September 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm

An excellent post and an excellent insight. I am pleased that I have made a contribution to you and you have made a contribution to all the people working on improving customer service and customer experience.


James Lawther September 25, 2011 at 1:45 am

Marc, it occurs to me that worry and trust are two sides of the same coin.

Which begs the question, “Would you do business with somebody you trusted 99%”


Adrian Swinscoe September 25, 2011 at 6:18 am

Hi Marc,
That’s a really great question. Made me think of a slightly expanded angle: how many people are stopped from buying from us by their anxieties about how we or our products/services will perform or deliver.

Hmmm lots to think about,

Adrian Swinscoe recently posted..The Shawshank Redemption the most viral product and best example of word of mouth marketing ever?

Marc Sokol September 25, 2011 at 7:23 am

Hi James,

Ironically it’s often not a matter of trust or worry, but trust and worry. In many cases some level of trust is given over to initiate business, but it is less than 100%, evidenced by the worry and verification efforts we make to ensure we get what is expected.


martin hill-wilson October 2, 2011 at 8:49 am


That’s a smart insight. In fact calling it a Worry Index is to save face. Interally it would need to be seen for what it was. “How-often-can-we -screw-up-before-all-customer-confidence-is-eroded-in-us-and-they- remain-permantently-suspicious-of-our-capability-and-integrity!


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: