Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Survey says.........

Have you noticed how frequently we as consumers are now being asked to complete surveys of various types to gauge our satisfaction with a product, service or process?

I don't know about you, but I feel that I'm being inundated by them lately.  For example, I went to Walt Disney World for a work function a couple of weeks ago, and received a total of three surveys relative to that excursion--two from Delta Airlines (one for my outbound flight and the other for the return trip) and one from Disney regarding my stay on their property.  And I often appreciate the chance to complete these forms, as I know from my own experience in working with customers that it's sometimes the best way to get someone's attention if there's been a problem or issue.

But one wonders where all of this data that's being collected is going, and what's being done with it?  After all, if you continually ask your customers what they'd like to see improved about your service, and nothing ever improves, I mean, come on, what's the point?

By far, my favorite surveys are the ones that GIVE you something to thank you for completing it.  My wife and I eat occasionally at a certain restaurant, and for the longest time on EVERY receipt was an invitation to complete a survey about our dining experience.  At the end of the survey you'd receive a code and if you turned in the receipt with a valid code, you'd receive a $5 credit on your next bill at that restaurant.  Needless to say, we visited there a little more frequently when that promotion existed, but, now that it's not going on any longer, our visits are less frequent.

My least favorite offshoots of these surveys are when you get a cloying E-mail from someone who's responsible for "customer satisfaction" and the like, practically begging you to accept an apology for something that your completed survey indicates did or didn't happen.  Rarely is it accompanied by anything other than these profuse apologies, which are fine, I guess, but a little uncomfortable.  I recently completed one for a hotel stay and mentioned that I was disappointed with the food choices available in the concierge lounge (if you're unfamiliar, it's a lounge available to rewards members for breakfast and happy hour, and I usually go for breakfast, since the food is complimentary).  Now, remember, I'm making a small complaint about a free breakfast where I didn't have as much menu variety as I would have liked, and I received an e-mail nine paragraphs in length, in which some corporate something-or-other fell on his sword again and again.  Truth is, I'll go back to that hotel, because it's well located and it's part of my preferred hotel rewards program.  But he didn't know that, so he felt compelled to beg me for another chance.

It's sometimes hard not to use these survey opportunities not to simply trash merchants and service providers for fun, but if you take them seriously, hopefully the merchants will, too.

So the next time you're asked to complete a survey, spend the five minutes and give them your honest opinion.  Who knows, they might actually listen!

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