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Not a happy customer

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Published on: Friday, November 13, 2015

By Angela Catterns

“As a valued customer, we’d like to invite you to take part in this survey. Your input and answers will be very valuable, and we look forward to hearing what you really think.

“You have been specifically selected for this survey, so please do not forward it on to friends or family to participate. The survey will take about 30 minutes to complete and it is completely anonymous.”

This was an email I received from a well-known cultural institution, asking me to take part in their customer survey. 

How flattered, even honoured I felt to have been handpicked to give my feedback.  I had been “specially selected”! They must REALLY want to know what I think of the place. Personally.

So I was sucked in right there with the opening couple of sentences. I was made to feel special simply for being chosen to participate in the their survey.

“It will take 30 minutes”. Gosh. That’s a long time. It must be a very. Important. Survey. The estimate of half an hour was a tad off-putting, but in a moment of generosity, I hit the Start button and entered the world of the creative survey designer.

It was a strange and unsettling experience. I found myself in a quandary of sort-ofs and maybes, trying to give answers to questions which I didn’t completely understand. The bulk of them were about potential corporate sponsors and how I perceived them.

There was a square divided into quarters which I was told represented me. And there was a heart which I had to drag and drop onto my body according to … well how close to my heart it felt. So you were to put the heart in the middle, presumably slightly to the left if you felt close to this brand, or dump it on the extremities if it was one I felt no fondness for at all.

This was dizzying stuff. An electronics company famous for fridges and washing machines – how close to my heart? A massive mobile phone company – how does it make me feel? I don’t know about you, but I fail to go all hearts a-flutter at the mention of most multi-nationals. 

No wonder it took so long. These are not questions to which one usually sets one’s mind. 

Nerveless, I ploughed through and half an hour later it was all over. I was left feeling worried about the future of this great institution. If they need me to tell them some of this stuff, someone there’s not doing their job well enough. 

Last night another customer survey arrived in my inbox. This time from my insurance company.

“Please answer these questions by dragging the black ball onto the scale below”

It was another drag and drop scenario. You had to pick up a black ball like a cannon, or an aniseed ball, and drop it on a line somewhere between not satisfied and highly satisfied.

This one didn’t predict the length of time it would take to complete, but there WAS a carrot at the end. The chance to win a $250 shopping voucher. OK. I’m in. 

“How satisfied are you with how well this company acts with integrity?” Hmmm … well I wouldn’t really know. Having had the barest of dealings with them - a phone call or 2 in at least a year -  I don’t feel qualified to comment on their integrity.

“How satisfied are you that this company is consistent in their dealings with customers?” Well I don’t know how they deal with any other customers, so I can’t say if they’re consistent or not.

“How satisfied are you that this company sets clear expectations with customers” … you get the drift.

Whoever designs these customer surveys needs to go back to basics. Ditch the drag and drop gimmicks. Write clear concise questions to which your average customer will have an answer.

And make sure that there really IS a reward of some kind for your customer, who’s been so generous with their time filling out your damned survey. 

After spending considerable time and thought completing this survey last night, 11th November, I looked for instructions on how to win the $250 shopping voucher.

I found this line at the bottom of the page: “The winners will be selected after the survey closes on 2nd November.”

Now I am no longer a happy customer!


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