Are Companies Using 'Customer Scores' to Prioritize Callers for Service?

New research from The Wall Street Journal reveals that there’s a reason why some customers are able to get through to agents at call centers faster than others. It comes down to a “customer score,” a calculation of how valuable that customer is to the business. It’s not a new tactic, as companies have long been using metrics like LTV (lifetime value) to evaluate customers, but using the insight to prioritize certain customers on calls is a new approach.

“Not all customers deserve a company’s best efforts,” Peter Fader, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, told The Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal’s findings, businesses in the apparel, automotive, travel, and telecommunications spaces as well as credit card companies use various technologies and models to assign a value to customers. When it comes to the average apparel company, a customer score may range from about $8 to over $200, with higher-scoring customers receiving faster service when they dial in for support.

Companies across industries confirmed the Journal’s findings. “The predominant way we route calls is based on the reason for the call,” a Sprint spokeswoman told the newspaper, but customer lifetime value is “one of many ways we guide customer interactions,” she added.

Businesses also said that the use of these metrics isn’t just driven by how much customers spend—it also depends on their general interactions with the brand. In fact, scores in most models are based not only on spending, but also how often shoppers make returns, where they live, when they shop, and even their education levels and marital status.

“A high-value customer who had a real service disruption and never calls to complain should be compensated more quickly than someone who is complaining and costing time and money,” Laks Srinivasan, co-chief operating officer of Opera Solutions LLC, which works with airlines, retailers, banks and other companies told the Journal.

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