Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The survey says—you are inadequate at your present occupation

Note: This column appears in the 5/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I have fully immersed myself in the process of filling out and submitting virtually any survey that comes my way.

It used to be that I scoffed at surveys. If I had to call a customer service line, and the automated prompts asked me if I’d like to participate in a survey afterwards, I always chose “yes.” I did this because I feared if I chose “no” this would somehow redirect my call to the lowest rated team of customer service agents, which would be, in my mind, a team of high-functioning chimpanzees wearing headsets. Once my conversation was complete, however, I would immediately hang-up on the survey. Not because I was indifferent about my customer service experience—it was typically awful and not helpful and forced me to question humanity—but because I was lazy.

But now? I am less lazy. Every time I receive poor service, which is quite often, I want to voice my displeasure to someone, anyone, immediately. For example, the Dunkin’ Donuts near our house employs a revolving door of stoner teenagers who have the social and problem-solving skills of a telephone pole. Luckily, all Dunkin’ Donuts receipts include the chance to submit an online survey, which I do, each and every time. How would I rate my experience on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best? I chose negative-8. There is no negative-8 button? I will leave it in the comments.

Even better, you get a free donut with every D&D completed survey. The irony of unsuccessfully trying to redeem my free donut coupon to the very employees who helped me earn that donut by being terrible at their jobs is never lost on me. To the survey machine!

Unfortunately, I have yet to really see the benefits of filling out surveys. My experiences out there in the world have not differed much since my commitment to voice my constant displeasure. I have always had an inclination that surveys are a mere public relations tool, and that when I click “submit,” my survey is immediately routed to the recycle bin on some random server in Wisconsin. If that’s the case, so be it. I will crash that server.

It could simply be that my surveys are taken less seriously because I always choose that I would prefer not to be contacted directly about my experience. It’s typically human interaction that motivated the negative survey, so I don’t want more of it. I prefer my complaining to be as passive aggressive as possible. Besides, it’s all there in the survey. No need to call. Please just send me something awesome for my troubles, thank you.

Now, I have also made it a point to, on those very rare occasions when it’s warranted, provide positive feedback as well. The grading curve of service has been so skewed that I feel obligated to acknowledge those special individuals who can provide even minimal support without making me feel like burning something down. Way to go! You deserve a raise.

Also, we deserve a raise. Of standards.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh! Mike you are so right. It goes beyond frustration. The only reason i fill out surveys is that i am hoping to be put in the sweepstakes & receive a phone call telling me that i won the $5000 shopping spree. Wonder if that will ever happen!!!!!!!

Phillip Eastwood said...

Yeah Mike, you're right. There are benefits you can possibly get from answering surveys from companies. Or perhaps, that is also a way of companies to monitor if their reps are doing what they're supposed to do -- providing good customer service, that is. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.