In Which I Issue A Plea To All Customer Satisfaction Surveys


You must be the customer satisfaction survey.

I mean, one of them. There are many of you. Kind of like bacteria. You’re all called the same thing, but in just twenty minutes, you can double in number.

I understand perfectly why you exist. There are, in business, things like profits and targets and sales and consumers and providers and all sorts of utterly dull things that most people don’t think about more than once or twice in their lives, and someone, somewhere, somewhen, once decided that the best way to make sure that customers, consumers, recipients, were happy was to ask them.

That person, that foolish, long-distant person, meant well. Yes, they did. They were probably being innovative and original, and probably thought they were bridging the gap between seller and buyer in a way that recalled the old-style shopping experiences of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries – you know, the sort of shopping where you visit a tailor who keeps a carefully handwritten card of your extant measurements, and edits that every time you come in and get remeasured, and remembers the names of your wife, children and grandchildren, your political affiliations and never to have you in the same room as your mistress’ husband to avoid a punch-up in the shop.

That person who came up with the customer satisfaction survey had good intentions.

But! you know what they say!

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In the forty years or so since this phenomenon first took off (it seems to have begun in earnest in the early 1970s – thanks, Wikipedia), we have gone from the odd question – “Was everything alright? Did you find what you needed?” – to incessant surveys popping up in text messages, phone calls and emails.

I have been asked four times today, if I was happy with a product or service. One of them was an automated call from Natwest, about customer satisfaction. It wasn’t even a person ringing me up! It was a computer! And the computer just wanted to know if I was happy with my interaction with a real human being yesterday, when I popped into my local branch to get a printout to confirm my account changes.

So, the interaction yesterday lasted five minutes: I was passing, popped in, the branch manager (earnest and overly sincere, but really genuinely trying to be helpful) printed me off some bits of paper that I needed, and I went on my way, thanking her and smiling. It took no effort. It took very little time, and I left happy (evidence: smiling, saying thank you, not kicking shit over as I stormed out screaming “F*ck you all, you’re terrible people!”)

I didn’t need a twelve minute phone survey this evening to find out if I was happy with that visit. I just didn’t.

And yet that’s what I got!

What a pointless exercise, when the follow-up survey takes more time than the initial interaction. It left me feeling actually quite angry with my bank, when before, I’d been happy with it. The customer satisfaction, in other words, was ruined by asking about customer satisfaction. (Can anyone else say defeating the purpose of customer satisfaction?)

So, yeah, I’m not an overwhelming fan of the customer satisfaction survey. Don’t anyone ask me to respond to my experience posting this. I might just cry.

2 thoughts on “In Which I Issue A Plea To All Customer Satisfaction Surveys

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