Musing on Wittgenstein’s ruler

wittgen Customer Satisfaction is usually considered to fall into a domain of Market Research, to me however it is one of the most critical traits of CRM universe. After all Customer Relationship Management systems suppose to help you to know how your customers feel about your company, your service and your product at any given time. Therefore it is critically important to enable and optimize two ways communication channels for capturing and analyzing the resulting information flow.

“Unless the source of the statement (or comments) has extremely high qualifications, the statement will be more revealing of the author than the information intended by him. This applies, of course to matters of judgment. A book review, good or bad, can be far more descriptive of the reviewer than informational about the book itself. This (probabilistic) mechanism I also call Wittgenstein’s ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler’s reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the rule.”

The underscored words are mine.

“The information from an anonymous reader on is all about the person, while that of a qualified person, is going to be all about the book”

Fooled by randomness – The hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

While completely agree with Mr. Taleb, I would like to pose that this is mostly accurate statement about general sentiment of liking or not liking a book or a product. The reference to disagreement of accuracy of specific fact stated in the book and questioned by the commenter, assumes certain expertise and therefore is about the book and not about the writer of the comment. The reference to specifics of the customer experience with a product also provides more practical information than reflection of commenter’s personality or expertise, and if it is consistent with experience of other customers , warrants further analysis, and perhaps corrective action.

Based on Wittgenstein’s ruler approach I would suggest that CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) is a relatively low value instrument which is like a thermometer, can point to the fact that your body is not well, but to none of potential reasons for that condition.

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2 Responses to Musing on Wittgenstein’s ruler

  1. Roy Atkinson says:

    There’s a missing variable: What is the target market of the product or service? If the commenter is in fact a customer with little expertise, but the product or service is aimed squarely at a market of unskilled users, the commenter is exactly the right ruler. If by contrast the product or service assumes a level of familiarity or expertise which the the commenter lacks, it is the ruler that’s being measured.

    The survey sample needs to be directed at the right target.

  2. Gregory says:


    Exactly right, but the CSI rarely provides any context offering an insight one can act upon. The CSI, as a one number, single dimension indicator offers very little value – it is not to say that a survey can use a methodology to deliver valuable measurements designed for specific actions. Given a body temperature measurement, doctor would have just a minor help in delivering correct diagnosis.

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