Before we get started…
Would you be willing to take a few minutes to answer a brief survey about your experience reading this column?
All right, just kidding about that. But seriously, how annoying are the ubiquitous online “customer satisfaction surveys” that arrive in your email inbox almost immediately following a significant purchase or an encounter with a “service representative”?
You know the ones I’m talking about. Questionnaires that, among other things, ask you to rate your satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being completely satisfied; or reckon the likelihood of your recommending whatever-it-is-they-do to a friend, ranging from an enthusiastic “highly likely” downward to a damning “never.”
These surveys purport to assist whoever-it-is “to better serve you in the future.” Baloney! They’re asking you to do their marketing research for them — for free. That, or it’s all a sop to make you think they actually value your input — hey, they’re listening! — when they couldn’t actually care less. Either way, they’re mostly a bloody nuisance.
For example, last month I leased a spiffy Chevrolet Cruze, fully loaded, at a local dealership. As it happened, the salesman was knowledgeable, professional, and got me a great deal. Now, I’m all for giving somebody their props for a job well done, so I happily answered an email survey I received about a week later and let GM know how nicely things had transpired.
Mere days after that, I was sent not one but two more surveys, which I set aside. Well, at that point GM began to send me urgent but polite reminders to please complete the surveys which had been sent blah, blah, blah. Eventually I caved and answered them, just so the pestering would end.
In the last year, I’ve also grudgingly answered satisfaction surveys from the cable company, the urologist, the dentist, Macy’s, Best Buy, Wells Fargo, American Express, and more. I’ve also declined plenty of others. After all, what’s the incentive? There’s no reward for your time and trouble, not even a future discount or a token gift card. Am I supposed to be stoked that I’m being asked to contribute my opinion, being given a chance to sound off? My nifty new car took two months to be delivered, which bunged up my finances a bit. Did I ever get a follow-up inquiry or apology for either? Nah.
Probably most obnoxious are the surveys that ask you to describe some aspects of your experience in your own words (as a writer, I especially resent this; I want to get paid for my work) and then want to know if they can “share” your comments with God-knows-who in marketing or sales or whatever.
Listen, at my age, those “10 to 15 minutes to participate” are precious. I don’t want to waste them providing personal information to corporate data geeks to analyze and utilize for who-knows-what purpose. Much better to spend that time calling someone close to you and asking them about their experience today.
The sad fact is there’s no way to hide from the scourge of online customer satisfaction surveys. Anybody you do business with nowadays has your email address and the means to approach you. So, going forward, if I can offer some praise, I will, hoping that it gets heard. Otherwise, I’ll be selective and participate only when I think I’ll be taken seriously.
By the way, if you want to rate this essay, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So I can better serve you in the future, of course.