I'm dissatisfied with customer satisfaction surveys

[Warning: Minorly rude language.]

Q: Why do companies strive for growth rather than technical excellence?

A: Maybe because you can't measure technical excellence.

Q: Why do companies strive for growth rather than maximizing customer satisfaction?

A: Maybe because its easier to measure growth.

Q: Can't you measure customer satisfaction?

A: I dunno. Fill out this survey and I'll summarize the results.

The myth of customer satisfaction surveys is that they are meaningful. Only people with nothing better to do answer surveys. [Major network vendor who's name begins with "C"] sends me a customer satisfaction survey after every interaction I have with them. What loser network engineer has time to fill out a survey? Real network engineers are off to the next task before the survey arrives in their email. When I was a newbie network jockey kid I filled out every survey I received. One sign of growing up into adulthood is you stop filling our customer satisfaction surveys.

There's another group of people that answer surveys: people that just got "very bad" service and want to complain. If your service was only "slightly bad," chances are you won't fill out the survey, you aren't angry enough to spend the time. Ironically "very bad" service is usually reported but generally can't be fixed because the problem is systemic. "Slightly bad" never gets reported but that's the kind of thing that management can actually fix!

Statistic: Typically 1% of all customer satisfaction survey's are returned. 10% is considered "excellent" in Quality circles. Does that mean you should decrease the age of your customer base or increase the number of "very bad" service interactions? Beat me.

If you really want to measure customer satisfaction visit my office and talk with me. If you can't do that, then when I resolve a ticket immediately bring up a window that depicts a smily face :-), a neutral face :-|, and a frowny face :-( and ask, "How did we do?". I'll click on the face that's appropriate. That's all the time I have to help you figure out why your company is so messed up. Oh, please make sure I get this pop-up right as I'm resolving the ticket, not three minutes later in my email... I'll have already moved on to my next task. If you do this you'll get 90% return rate because you've made it easy. If your management doesn't buy this idea, add a mechanism for me to give more details, like a checkbox (default "unchecked") for "I'll like to give more input."

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

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