Customer Service Survey Fatigue

I’ve been threatening to write about this topic but the envelope push was this week with my lawn service, TruGreen. I’m not picking on them at all; they are just the straw in a huge haystack that has been growing for a year or more.

Customers are extremely tired of surveys, companies. Let me repeat – we are sick and tired of being asked to fill out your stinkin’ surveys. We get phone calls, duplicate ones at that, asking for our ratings for a water heater that was installed 30 days ago. We are asked by every teller and retail clerk to “go to this website and you can win a shopping spree, an iPad, new diapers for your baby” if you fill out the survey and tell my company I rock.

The TruGreen guy rang my door bell, disappeared awhile in back and came around to shake my hand and make eye contact. I went back to work and so did he. On the door knob were two pieces of paper – the one about the application he applied to my lawn that day (with a handwritten “please take my survey”) and a piece of white paper with no branding asking me to complete a survey with my customer number and, and, and.

My friend at Allstate is an auto claims adjuster. He travels in the field to speak with policy holders and informs them how much Allstate is going to pay for vehicle damage. He lives and breathes by the customer satisfaction surveys he gets after that frontline experience. In fact, Allstate is chasing people out the door if adjusters’ numbers are lower than 90/100. That’s some serious pressure right there.

Companies need to stop.  People need to be empowered to do their jobs basically, satisfactorily and then over and above. Customers will notice the over and above, and guess what, companies? We will make the effort to call in out of the blue and tell someone we had awesome customer service. (Have you ever tried doing that? It’s next to impossible to nail down someone or a recording to report excellent customer service…I know as I’ve tried.)

Instead of customer service surveys at every interaction with frontline employees, consider these options:

1. Beef up your social media engagement with a Facebook page and let customers speak with you there. Add a Yelp profile where we can really give you a rating with stars and write about our experience. What are you afraid of? Does your customer service suck that bad that you’re fearful of negative backlash? Whose problem is that – the customer or the company?

2. Rate your employees randomly; work with them in the field and you can see their performance and how customers regard them and their service. Give them a rating that day and about 10 other times in the year – is that enough? You can’t tell me someone working with their boss is going to be that much different to customers; people do what comes naturally – customer service should come naturally.

3. Ask for the un-survey. Tell customers “this is not a survey. We’re not asking you for a rating of this employee today, we’re asking you to rate this employee only if you have something to share, something good or bad. We know you’re tired of all these surveys, and so are we. If you have thoughts on what we should do differently, please let us know by filling out this un-survey.”

4. Trust in your training programs! Give those people you’ve hired an opportunity to experience good, bad, indifferent customers and they will know what to do in that situation. Know that the people you hire are who they need to be on the frontline.

5. Give employees a survey goal – we want you to earn 10 surveys a month; pick your customer or your engagement and get your scores. That means they don’t need to ask for a survey every cotton-picking time.

I’m not sure when this survey business started, but it’s become a joke. No one takes the survey seriously any more. And if you’re a company like Allstate demanding high marks for all customer service engagement, it puts undue pressure on policyholders and frontline employees at the same time.

What do you think, dear Readers?

10 comments
KDillabough
KDillabough

I'm up to my eyeballs in survey requests...and requests to "like" something...and requests to sign up...and to log on...and to fill out a form...and to answer "did you find everything you were looking for?", to which I want to say "Well the Porsche and diamond tiara weren't in the cereal aisle, so no." Can you tell I'm in askfatigue? Cheers! Kaarina

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

Wow Jayme, I think I could write an entire blog post in response to this one! I’ll try to keep it brief.

 

First, I definitely relate to the sentiment; I rarely, if ever, fill out those surveys and it seems like you can’t have an interaction with a company anymore without being asked. It’s sort of like antibiotics or antibacterial products — while they are good for the individual, the collective use is having an overall negative effect. i.e. You probably wouldn’t mind if you got asked to do a survey a couple of times a month, but a couple of times a day… it changes how you, as a consumer, view it.

 

However, on the company side, satisfaction surveys are often the least expensive method possible to get customer feedback. I will have to disagree with just doing such a good job that people respond naturally. It doesn’t work. Upset people will dominate and skew your results. For small businesses, the sample set will be skewed and too small.

 

I think your 3rd point was really strong. Take a different approach when presenting the “survey.” Be creative and find different ways to solicit feedback.

 

Good stuff Jayme! You bring up a real problem, and I think a lot of people feel the way you do.

Faryna
Faryna

Jayme,

 

You nailed it.

 

Where's the problem! Lack of investment in the process? Lack of understanding of an effective process? Just checking things off on the check list?

 

I have a client right now that wants results but doesn't want to make the investment, wants to do it how they imagine things should happen (off the hip with a cocktail in both hands), and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. Failure, of course, will ultimately be put on my plate.

 

[laughing] I'm ok with that. Sometimes, I'm paid to own the blame and I'll know that within the first five minutes of a client interview.

 

Maybe I should get a secondary business card that states that service upfront:

 

Stan Faryna

Bullet-eater

Dave Z
Dave Z

Heh, it can get frustrating being asked consistently to fill out a survey after "interacting" with the company. OTOH, how else is the company going to be able to get as measurable results as possible, based on their own internal goals, without doing surveys?

 

Also, some companies use surveys as a way to rate their employees. The domain registrar I worked with in a previous life did this, though I don't know if they're still doing it now.

 

I guess it's all a matter of how to handle things like these without necessarily inconveniencing people, emphasis on necessarily. But thanks for sharing your thoughts still. :)

Neicolec
Neicolec

If I've had a great experience, I make a point of asking who I can tell and talking to the manager or someone to commend the service person. I'll do the same if I've had really bad experience. That should be enough!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @KDillabough When there is a service administered over and above the customary exchange of goods, then I expect and will take a survey. When the plumber comes to install my hot water heater and has to take it back because I bought the wrong one, etc. You bet!

 

For "how am I driving?" Fuhgeddaboudit -- unless the dude is drunk.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @adamtoporek You're right; detractors rule. For companies, they need to find a mode of less is more. We're tired, annoyed and frustrated about this practice and even if I wanted to recognize someone, it's become such a pain to do it that we ignore the entire event.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Dave Zan Surveys serve a necessary purpose, for sure, Dave. But, how many, at what point and how they're tied to the interaction are what annoy most survey takers. For large corporations with oodles of employees perhaps these methods are the only true measurement  of customer satisfaction (there has to be another way). That said, for customer interaction greater than 20 minutes, fine, I'll take a survey. For customary exchange like fertilizing my lawn, buying a t-shirt, depositing money -- no way. Thanks!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @Neicolec You're so right! The push/pull thing in customer service is so broken. I need to figure out how to help to fix that.  Is anyone listening? Great to see you! Where are you blogging these days?

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