Adventures In Stupidity: Surveys

The line that describes most surveys today? “Stupid is, as stupid does.”

When I hear people tout the idea that technology is reducing redundancy, or streamlining the process, or, __________(fill in the blank.) I just refer to any “customer survey” put out by any major corporation (and some mom & pops are also guilty) and ask, “Ever filled out more than one? In its entirety?”
Most reply, “No.” The reason? They’re not only agonizingly long, they’re just plain stupid. And, it’s this very technology that gives these glaringly tedious forms their reason for being.

One of the overwhelming dysfunctional parts of these surveys, is the unmistakable tone they are both generic, and willfully absent of any or all of my account information.

First, indulge me in stating the set up…
If you’ve forced me to enter my account number to proceed as to have all my information available to “serve me better.” Then why when I’m transferred back and forth do I have to give that information every single time, again, and again, within your own system?

Secondly: If you can generate a survey automatically, directly sending it to me within moments of my interactions, using my email address found within my account information on your servers. You’ve demonstrated there’s a priority problem with your customer service, not a technological problem.

Lastly. After I’ve been switched, transferred, beamed up, and what ever else they do with me and my info, to then get transferred to the dreaded “boiler room call center” where it seems the above process starts all over again – is infuriating.

It’s at this point where any first held thoughts you just might get your issue handled in an expedient manner seems to drain from your cranium like wax flowing down a candle. Yet, for me, from out of no where came hope or maybe, just maybe, salvation.

In two recent instances, with different companies, my issues were resolved by two knowledgeable as well as pleasant reps. (Although the way in which they make these people use scripted phraseology over, and over, and over again during the conversation was not only tedious, it was annoying.)

Just after I had lost faith in all that is “customer service” as my tendonitis pain subdued since no longer having to press 5 for this, 3 for that, acct.# here, and more. I regained my faith that maybe, just maybe, there was hope.

Then – I received the survey via email.

I truly wanted to fill it out. I figured as we all do at times. “How are they going to know unless someone says?” So I opened it…

Question 1: What was the nature of your call?
Are you kidding me? You just had me in your system supplying account #’s, speaking to rep’s within your company, on hold at any given time for so long I could have ordered Baked Alaska, from Alaska, and you need me to supply the reason for my call?

Insult to injury. (still on question one) The multiple choice descriptions did not even fit or come close to describing my issue. They were far to generic and confusing as to am I this or that. I guess, since I just wasted the morning, they figured I could waste a few more hours as to contemplate which one fit best. After all, what better things might I have to do. And, besides, this is all to serve me better correct? Yeah, right.

Yes, there was a box marked “other” where I could nicely and neatly type an exact description as to the nature of my call. However, it was so soon since interacting with their system it left me wincing at the thought of typing anything more. At least not before the ice packs melted.

I then decided I would just check the closest one as to see what was question 2. Then I looked at the top of the questionnaire only to see the horror that awaited me. Question 2 put me somewhere less than 2% complete. What in the world awaited me – another 100? I abruptly closed both the survey as well as my browser.

Here’s my professional advice pro bono to any and all that may have any input or, think about implementing a survey of their own. If you’re truly serious about getting results that matter, follow these 3 steps.

1: All surveys should be no longer than give or take, 5 questions. Maximum.

2: If you need to use the word “Why?” you’ve already shown your survey to be worthless. Ask simple straight forward questions with reasonable replies. i.e.,
“Was your problem resolved to your satisfaction today? Yes or No? Was the process easy for you to navigate? Yes or No?
Or, “How was your experience dealing with our automated system? Click anywhere between 1 and 10”
1 for: I will change companies if this continues, and 10 for: This was a satisfactory experience to resolve my issue.

3: Your questions should be designed as to distinguish real problems that need to be addressed.
If your survey trips your threshold of: “Oh, oh..there’s a real problem with this customer.” Don’t ask on the questionnaire: “May we contact you?”
If it trips – contact them. Period.
They’re your customers, and they have an issue. Call, email, what ever. Just do it with a real desire as to fix the issue.

If not: Save your time and the expense of weeding through these worthless “satisfaction” ploys to show you care.
It’ll at least save us (the customer) what little sanity we have left after dealing with you.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr