“Customer Satisfaction Surveys Are Coming At A Furious Pace”

Customer satisfaction surveys have abounded in recent years. It’s gotten to the point that if you stop at the corner convenience store to ask for directions that you’ll have a text message waiting for you before you get back to your car asking how they did. That’s a little bit of a stretch, but not by much. 

There was a time when the public seemed to put a lot of stock in consumer reviews and how well someone placed in an independent survey of job performance or customer satisfaction. Car companies, retailers, public service companies, and many others would invest significant monies in having surveys conducted – (1) because they wanted to be able to boast about how good they were vis-a-vis their competition who didn’t have as good of results or didn’t conduct such a survey, and (2) because they actually were concerned about improving their sales presentations and customer interactions.

Having a lobby full of trophies, plaques, and certificates proclaiming how great a company is at serving their customers is fine – if it’s true. However, it only takes one poor experience to unwind this. Perhaps the customer is having a bad day, the employee charged with helping the customer is having a bad day, they both are having a bad day, or something else is going on that causes the matter to quickly get out of hand.

If we want testimonials, that’s fine. When our customers and clients tell us voluntarily that they like the work we are doing, that they appreciate our level of expertise and professionalism, that they respect our knowledge, or that they are glad they found us to help them with their issue, there is nothing wrong – and everything right – about capturing this in a note, email, on LinkedIn, on a YouTube video, or anything else we can share with people who might be interested in evaluating our services before selecting us.

Think of the difference in seeing, reading, or watching a testimonial (unsolicited or requested) extolling how we helped them and in seeing that we got a 98% satisfaction rating.

There was a time when people thought that their comments would be taken seriously so that if they had an occasional bad experience with a merchant, they could note that and expect to be contacted by someone in management to discuss it. Now, we hesitate mentioning it because, based on the times when we have noted something amiss, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Another thing that has happened with the proliferation of surveys is that we really aren’t supposed to note anything but a good experience. This is what companies are seeking, and this is what the employees in those companies are seeking. It turns out that employees are only expected to get perfect marks on their customer surveys. So, just tell them they did fine, or decline to participate. Kind of takes the edge off the whole process, doesn’t it?

As consumers ourselves – and for our consumers also – we don’t need to be contacted after each phone contact, store visit, or email experience to verify that we were treated well. That generally happens during the conversation or exchange anyway. Notice the number of times when we call a company for technical support or service that we are invited to remain on the line for a brief survey after we are finished. Many times, it really is brief – two questions. Doesn’t seem like it is worth the effort for the company or us – especially since the person taking the call asked if we were satisfied with the way the matter had been handled anyway (the same thing the survey would ask).

Before we consider jumping into the customer satisfaction survey program with our clients and customers, let’s evaluate what really is to be gained and what our experiences have been in being contacted so frequently. Our clients and customers likely have similar experiences as us with retailers and others they are contacting. Let’s not add to it. A conversation beats a form.

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