Customer satisfaction surveys are useless when…

I had to get my car serviced today at the dealer’s service center. It was about as enjoyable as you could expect a 90 minute wait to be. But as I was waiting for the paperwork to be completed I noticed a sign in the lobby of the service shop that read (I snapped a picture with my phone, but its quality is too poor to post, further, all the grammatical errors were on the original sign):

Attention: Please

We work hard to provide you with the best possible service we can give you. Part of this endeavor includes a follow up survey conducted by XXXX on your experience with us. In essence this is our grade card.

Please keep in mind that XXXX considers Yes and 10 an acceptable or passing grades. Any and all other responses are considered unacceptable and / or failing grades.

If for any reason you feel you would not be able to grade with a Yes or a 10 Please call Our Service Manager XXXX XXXX.

Thank you,

XXXX XXXX Service Manager

Couple things:

1. If your service needs to be a Yes or a 10 to “pass” survey inspection, you probably shouldn’t be reminding me to give you that score. Make my experience with your organization a Yes or a 10. Your service should be so excellent that the customer needn’t reminding. Period.

2. What is the point of customer satisfaction surveys if it is pass/fail? You know, my service wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that great. And since I’m willing to comply with your request, I’ll give you a 10 or a Yes. But does that ever help make your service improve? I’m willing to bet your service is generally pretty good and you get very few negative responses. So while your service is going to generally be very good, what help is it to your organization to not use customer satisfaction surveys for improvement? Your service today may be good enough, but in the world we live in, good enough today probably isn’t going to be good enough tomorrow.

This happens in health care, too. It has happened to me. I went to a clinic lab to get my blood drawn a few months ago and the lab tech asked me to fill out a customer satisfaction survey before leaving. He stood over me as I filled it out and reminded me that anything lower than a 5 (on a 1-5 scale) was considered failing.

I understand we don’t want to fail. I understand that we want our customer service to be rated highly. But what is the point if it is just a mirage? If you’re going to collect data, collect it with a purpose. Your customer satisfaction is a very important component of the patient experience. Don’t set yourself up for failure by polluting the data and setting subjective benchmarks.

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