There’s a big problem with customer reviews – they can leave you with a false sense of security.

What could be more important than the customer’s view right?

Well, not everything that a customer sees helps drive profitability. Indeed, many profitable customer service activities are invisible to the customer.


Customers are heavily swayed by the staff member interaction. Attributes such as kind, engaged, smiling, helpful, knowledgeable all rightly affect the service experience.

But it’s possible the staff member displayed all these attributes, scored a 10/10 but didn’t close the sale, didn’t upsell, didn’t mention the loyalty program, didn’t offer a followup call and gave the wrong advice.

So the smiling polite lovable staff member may be missing huge profit opportunities.

Sounds obvious right, but there is a circumstance which can also lead to false positive results, namely synchronicity.


Some customer experiences are synchronous with the customer’s opinion, but others are asynchronous.

A customer experience is synchronous if its absence or presence affect the customer experience equally.

For example, a smiling experience leads to a positive customer experience, and a scowl (the opposite, leads to a negative experience.

Similarly, the absence of something can be positive, and the experience can be negative. For example, The absence of a bank queue is a positive experience (“wow I got served quickly”) but having a long line is a negative customer experience.

Sounds simple enough.

But then there are asynchronous events where the event is a positive but its absence is NOT a negative.

Have you ever been upgraded to business class when flying? The first thing you do is smile, and you have a warm glow throughout the flight, especially if you’ve never flown before.

Getting a business class upgrade creates a definite 10/10 review, but……

The absence of an upgrade is not a negative experience. You can’t miss what you didn’t have, and you may still score the flight a 10/10.

The opposite of getting an upgrade (not getting an upgrade), does not on its own create a negative review. And more importantly, receiving the upgrade puts rose coloured glasses on the customer.

It’s inevitable that the upgraded business class first timer will score a 10/10, but what if the staff were unattentive, the food slow incomplete or cold, and many of the other normal business class processes not followed?

Business class frequent flyers would score the flight a 3/10, but they are unlikely to complete a survey, whereas the newbie scores a 10. The flight will probably only generate 1 review, and that review will be a 10/10, so the staff get a pat on the back.

What do you do about this problem?

1) Keep collecting data, but you need to filter for any possible abnormal activities (upgraded customers).

2) Be wary of events like Sale times.

3) Conduct some Mystery Shopping to get unbiased operational data (such as speed of service/upsell/closing the sale)