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?