And the Survey Says...

Last month I spend a lot of time flying all over the country... from California to Vermont, Biloxi to North Dakota and New York!  On each flight the attendants remind us that we may receive a survey in a few days about our flight and to please fill it out so they can learn to do a better job in the future.  Nice.

However on one flight, where the air conditioning was broken, the attendant reminded us several times to not blame her for the faulty system.  I get it, she wants a good reputation. 

The next day, flying back home, we had the same attendant. This time, the flight was delayed an hour due to thunderstorms around the airport. Once again, she reminded passengers to not blame her when the survey arrived.  She reminded us three times that we should give her good marks despite the weather delay.

What good is a survey if the employees tell you how to fill it out to their advantage?

Our family gets a kick out of watching “Family Feud” on occasion. Family Feud has popularized the phrase, “And the survey says!” They take polls in malls all over the US to come up with the answers to the questions Steve Harvey asks contestants on each show. It has become the most popular game show on television.

What good would it do if the answers were “rigged?” What if the outcomes were dictated to the people being surveyed?  Do you think a scandal like that would make headlines?  Would it make the program lose popular viewers?

I went shopping at Lowes home improvement store this morning. The nice cashier asked if I had trouble locating anything. “Yes, you seem to be out of stock on some light bulbs I was looking for. Are you getting more in this week?” My statement went ignored.

I paid for another item that I had found and as I received my receipt, the cashier pointed out a survey a paragraph at the bottom of my receipt (by using with a yellow highlight marker). She said I could win a $300 gift certificate by filling it out and that a customer won $150 this week at their store.  That was intriguing...

Then she ruined any hope of an honest response from me. “Be sure you give us a ‘7’ on every question and it will help the employees get a raise!” Then she insisted as I walked out the door, “Remember, ‘7’ on every question!” 

You’ve got to be kidding me! Lowe’s gives raises using a customer survey... that their own employees are rigging?  Even when the employees don’t respond to customer requests? Is Lowe’s management aware of this? 

I remembered what she said... long enough to put it in this article - NOT on the survey!  

What does that have to do with your business? 

Next time just say, “If you liked our service, please let my boss and HR manager know it. If you didn’t like it, shut up and go home!”

If you tell people what to answer, unless the service really was outstanding, they probably won’t even fill out the survey. Which skews the results in favor of the most positive responses, by default.

I’m not saying employees need to bow to my every whim, but to request EXCELLENT results on a customer service survey, even when the service was sub-par is unnerving.  And quite intimidating.
A few days after the earlier flights in this article, I flew on a last minute change (once again due to weather delays). I wound up sitting in the back row of the plane with another lady who wasn't accustomed to anything short of First Class. The attendant was so nice to us both. He slipped extra beverages and snacks to us. He made friendly chit-chat conversation and told jokes with us to make the bad seating bearable. We remembered his name (Jake) and gave him superior remarks. Never blamed him for the weather, the seats or the back of the plane. He earned it without asking.
How do companies that abuse their customers, like auto dealerships, wireless phone companies, hotel chains, cable providers, heating and cooling companies and airlines that abuse their customers keep bragging that JD Power rated them high?  I’ll bet the surveys are rigged in the winner’s favor.

Here’s  a novel idea... train your employees in real world customer service. Not to give stock answers to questions (or ignore them completely). Stop bullying customers for top reviews on your own survey.  

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