Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Surfeit of Surveys

In the last year or so, I have noticed that practically every business you patronize asks you to complete a survey of their work. Shortly after a liquor store took and scanned my driver’s license (ostensibly to make sure I was over 21, and if you believe that’s the real reason, I have stock in Broadway Bank I’d like to pitch to you) I began getting phone calls asking me to take surveys. After the first one, during which a female sounding about 15 years old asked me if I was “planning to purchase an automobile in the next twelve months” I refused to talk to them. Some would ask for “the man of the house” and I would tell them he was in the shower. Picture that.

The business world’s reliance on such surveys was, is and always will be bogus, as it radiates hypocrisy. Here is some advice from someone without an MBA for these clueless companies:

1. If you really care about your American customers, your phone service is comprised of native American-English speakers. Making me spend three times as long on the phone with someone who has memorized a few lines but neither speaks nor understands English isn’t going to steer me in your direction a second time.

2. Don’t ask me to rate your staff. If your parents taught you to say, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry,” you would know the difference between courteous, rude and indifferent service. If not, go back to finishing school.

3. Regarding #2 above, if your service stunk, you’ll hear about it. Thanks to the Internet and various sites such as Yelp, if you shaft your customers, you - and your competitors - will hear all about it. Just another reason to make sure you are aware of what goes on in your company. In other words, don’t call us, we’ll call you. The important phrase here is, “Don’t call us.”

4. If you think we’ve never heard of Angie’s List, dream on. Angie’s List is one of the few legitimate survey and rating institutions around, along with the magazine Consumer Reports. You should regard them with fear, respect and awe.

5. Can you imagine if a 12-year-old boy took one of your surveys and gave deliberately untrue answers just to mess with you? Keep hounding us, and that’ll happen.

6. Are you properly training your employees and giving them 3-month trial periods before handing them the key to the Executive Washroom? If so, you don’t need to constantly ask us, “How are we doing?”

7. Are you offering us a chance to win an obscene amount of money if we go on line and fill out a survey about your company?  Let's hear from one person who has actually won the $30,000.  How stupid do you think we are?  We're on to you, and know you just want our e-mail addresses so you can spam us.  Give it up.

The words survey and surveillance have the same root. Some of us don’t want to be watched 24/7, and we don’t care to reveal our thoughts about every facet of our existence either. Here’s a hint: confine your surveys to the most obnoxious celebrities and the poor saps who go on those reality TV shows. After a while, they’ll be punching you in the virtual jaw, too.


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