I’ve noticed a trend in customer service surveys, and it annoys the heck out of me. It was clearly dreamed up by an idiotic manager whose passion for customer service far exceeded his (or her, although I have trouble imagining this as a woman) grasp on reality and common sense. The trend is that the only acceptable answer on the survey is the top rating. E.g. If the survey has ratings of “Excellent,” “Good,” “Fair,” and “Poor” then anything below “Excellent” is considered a failing grade.
I first remember seeing this when we bought our car. (The car salesman, who we liked and trusted, told us that his evaluation, and the evaluation of his dealership, was based on the number of perfect evaluations that he received.) And since then I’ve seen it several times at hotels and once or twice in restaurants. It usually comes in the guise of a letter or something from the manager of the establishment encouraging you to fill out the survey, and instructing you to call him/her if there is any item on the survey that you can’t give top marks.
As a customer, this annoys me to no end. There is almost no such thing as a perfect customer service experience. But most of the time, frankly, I’d rather go on with my life than ask you to fix it in real time. Then, if you happen to ask me to complete a survey (and I happen to oblige), I can tell you how to improve.
Were the pillows perfect? No. They were a little too soft. Am I going to call you up in the middle of the night and demand new pillows so that my stay will be perfect? Of course not. Then my stay would be disrupted by a housekeeper banging on the door in the middle of the night. But if I fill out the survey, you’ve now pressured me to say that the stay was perfect — which gives you no information on how to improve your business — under threat of pestering me to death until I say that the stay was perfect.
Bah! Humbug! (This message brought to you by the Holiday Inn [at undisclosed location]. A hotel that is falling apart, but that will never hear about it from me due to the pressure from the management to give the hotel a perfect rating or call the front desk immediately to make things right. “Hello. Front desk? Could you send up a new pillow, a new ironing board, a light bulb, and someone to fix the heater in the room? Thanks. Oh wait, the new ironing board you sent up is also broken. Could you send up a third? Thanks. Oh, and there’s also this thing sticking out of the wall socket that I think might electrocute me if I reached behind the dresser to plug in my cell phone. So send an electrician, too.”)
Update: Just so the list of Holiday Inn grievances is complete: the bed is hard and has a pit in the middle, the towel hook on the back of the door won’t hold a towel because it spins freely, and the hair dryer is falling off the wall.