KLAS Founder Kent Gale

Best Way to Improve Your KLAS Score: No Shortcuts

Shortcuts! We all look for shortcuts—ways to get to the finish line faster.

In the client services world, there are few if any shortcuts. A more successful client is a happier client and will score his or her vendor partner higher. Vendors that want to be partners (and increase their KLAS scores) should help their clients be more successful. No secrets. No shortcuts.

At first, it was comical to see the myriad of shortcuts that some vendors used to try to improve their KLAS scores, without any actual improvement in client satisfaction. Using shortcuts is not something a real vendor partner would do. Here are some examples:

  • A vendor manager pretended to be a provider client and rated the product/service high only to be discovered when we called to complete the evaluation with some deeper questions.
  • Another vendor sent letters to all their clients recommending that they participate in the KLAS evaluation only if they were going to score the vendor higher than a 7 and that they call the vendor instead if they were going to rate them lower than a 7.
  • A more common attempt is to give KLAS a cherry-picked client list. And a more proactive push happens when vendor representatives sit next to the happiest clients while they rate the product on the KLAS website.
  • A simple but less obvious approach is to send a complete client list but include incorrect contact information for the least happy clients. Sometimes vendors include contacts that have left the client or have even died.

There are various other ways software and services suppliers have attempted to artificially boost their scores, with the most recent attempts occurring just in the past few months.

One vendor was upset that their scores did not reflect recent changes. Upon contacting those clients provided by the vendor with new experiences, we saw definitive improvement—that is, until we found clients with new experiences that the vendor had intentionally left off the list. Those clients scored the vendor much lower when KLAS contacted them.

Sadly, there are even more devious ways try to inflate KLAS scores.

Recently, an individual contacted a large number of industry vendors offering shortcuts to increase their KLAS scores (in this case, to game the KLAS system). Having worked for KLAS previously, this individual attempted to convince potential clients that leveraging inside knowledge produced shortcuts to higher scores without service- or product-improvement efforts. Several vendors decided to see whether the proposed shortcuts would work. A couple of these vendors even gained access to KLAS-copyrighted reports provided by this individual through a stolen password.

Have some KLAS scores experienced temporary artificial movement? Of course, but only for a brief time, and they will be republished in a bold way. Some vendors were very surprised about what happened, and a few were embarrassed by their attempt to game the system. That former KLAS employee was caught in an attempt to interfere with the KLAS research process and sell KLAS-copyrighted reports without authorization. This type of shortcut never works in the long run.

Fortunately, KLAS has safeguards built in to keep the KLAS scores as honest, accurate, and impartial as they are trusted to be.

I am reminded of a prominent vendor executive privately discussing with me his approach to client visits while overlooking the beautiful grounds at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I asked what his typical goals were for visits. Pulling an IBM punch card from his vest pocket, he showed me a handwritten list of goals for an upcoming visit.

As I read through the list, which included items such as going over new product developments, sharing financial successes, and explaining management changes, it occurred to me that nowhere on the narrow card did I see “listen to the customer” or “ask how successful the client was with their products and services.” In fact, there was nothing on the card that indicated an appetite to even know whether the client was successful with the product. I saw only an outward-facing effort to convince the client of the vendor’s greatness. I asked the executive about that gap, and he was visually shocked that such an elemental goal was missing.

To this day, that executive mentions to me how much of a difference that interaction has made in how he and the company see the client—a foundational element for improved KLAS scores. The KLAS methodology is to help the client by helping the vendor improve.

If we encounter a weakness in our methodology or safeguards, we are committed to improving every aspect of our research so that it is honest, accurate, and impartial. The first KLAS commandment is “Everything KLAS does must benefit the provider.” No shortcuts. Help your clients be more successful, and your scores will go up!