Sunday, August 08, 2010

Surveys and Things that Suck Rant . . .

Went to a restaurant -- it's a local chain. At the end of the meal we were handed a check and a little piece of paper asking us to telephone/log-in to take a brief survey. If we did, we'd get something the next time we came in. I won't be taking the survey, just like I haven't taken the survey on all the other times I went to eat there.

What's the chances that you give everybody this survey scam every time, and the little something given as a thank-you for taking the survey really is an incentive to return to mooch out on the little something you get when you return the next time. In otherwords, it isn't information the company seeks. It's return customers.

Oh, and how was it? The food was what we expected. That's why we went there. The new menu sucks, in that any information one might be seeking is cleverly hidden in and amongst the pretty pictures the marketers think must be necessary for the illits they serve, all of whom can presumably be trusted to salivate for the right psychological cues provided a smart marketer, such as the ones who designed the new menu, manipulates the emotional symbolism correctly. Our server never returned to our table with an inquiry about anything further we might require, and we had to ask for a check to leave, for fear of being left sitting there, forever. Our server was engaged in a tedious conversation with a different customer, explaining how our server could not possibly have been 50% responsible for the accident, as his own insurance company had concluded, because he is a safe driver and the other driver was driving a Ford Explorer. I listened to his story -- it couldn't be avoided -- and both he and his insurance company are wrong. He's 100% responsible, and his insurance company is attempting to screw the other driver out of half his claim by asserting our server was only 50% responsible.

But I don't judge. Certainly not. I just don't give my usual 20-25% tip.

Hey, restaurant. Want some real information about how you are doing? You don't need a survey. Just look at your monthly receipts, your head count, and your tips. And I know you know what the tip level is because it's information required for IRS.

If management of a company, any company, wants to improve its business, the strategy is easy. Give excellent service with excellent products at an excellent price, and continuously look for ways you can improve service, products, and price. Don't ask your customers what you could be doing to get better. You should know that already. It's your job. And if you can't tell what constitutes excellent service, product or price, then you are in the wrong job. You should know that. It's your job to know that.

And if you want to find out if your employees are delivering, get somebody to step into a pair of jeans and drive into your own establishment and act like a customer. Or do it yourself. It's your job to know these things. And if your employees are not delivering, don't bother to chew on them or on their supervisor. There's a 95% chance that your company has instituted some policy or procedure, or maybe whole bunches of them, that disincentivize your employees. (I don't think that's a word, but if not, it should be.)

You want a survey? Here's a good one. Only two questions offered to your employees who have direct customer contact.

a. Has the company done anything to piss you off lately?
b. If your answer to the above is "yes", what was it? List as many as apply.

Betcha you'll learn something. Betcha if you try to fix the stuff that bothers your employees, your business improves. Also, keep in mind that sometimes a business is successful in spite of itself. And sometimes a business is successful because of politics. Money coming in isn't necessarily a sign that you are doing something right. Contrarily, money not coming in is definitely a sign that you are doing or have done something wrong. Oh, let's see. Your disincentivised employees have contact with your remaining customers, and you don't.

That's a hint.

Oh, I know. This isn't what they taught you when your were earning your Masters of Business Administration. They were all into statistics and measurement, weren't they? They want you to survey your customers, and they want you to count up the number and type of responses so you can compare survey results over time, and draw charts and graphs. They want you to see what measurements you have that aren't so very good, so you can call those little failure events opportunities for improvement. Gah!

Let me tell you about your M.B.A. degree. I'm sure you worked hard and did all the case studies, and maybe came to be indoctrinated into the M.B.A priesthood and you wholeheartedly believe in everything you learned. Well, you should figure out what was sensible, and what was not. Consider this. The university that gave you an M.B.A. likely offered an undergraduate degree for academic credit -- in women's studies. Or womyn's studies. And paid their football coach more than you'll ever make with your M.B.A. That same university is the one standing for the proposition that you can be taught in few short years, with summers off, how to manage a business where you don't have to be directly in contact with the customers who pay you. That same university is the one that expects you to believe that measurements are superior to leadership, and that employees can be managed by directive and deception, and budgeteering. (Another word I made up. It's kinda like racketeering isn't it, 'cause it shares the same objectives and many of the same methods.)

If you can't figure out the likely cause and a useful solution to the problem of a declining revenue, or one that isn't rising at the rate some imbecile in a necktie budgeted for, then you shouldn't have the job. It's not your customer's job. Their job is to pay for the product and services you offer, if you offer them a better deal then they can get elsewhere.

Figure it out for yourself, sparky. Surveying the customers sucks.

But the worst surveying is the phony survey. There are two kinds. The first phony survey is the one where the surveyor is looking for specific responses it can use for future marketing. For example:

Would you rather shop at Walternatives or insert a rabid wolverine up your own fundamental aperture? a. shop, b. wolverine, c. how big is the wolverine d. what's a fundamental aperture

Marketing message: Sixty four percent of shoppers prefer shopping at Walternatives!

But the worst is the mooch survey. I get these from the Republican party all the time, both by mail and by phone. (I get mooch letters and calls from the Democrats, too. Both parties enjoy the fiction that I somehow must agree with them.) Mooch surveys ask questions that I presumably have responses to and that I'm all-a-tizzy at the thought that somebody cares to hear my response. The questions are all variations of the below:

How bad does Obama suck?
Would you like him to stop sucking?
How bad do Democrats suck?
Would you like them to stop sucking?
Aren't you glad Obama and the Democrats aren't Republicans like us?

But the last question is always something like;

How much money would you like to send us, the non-Obama non-Democrats?

They appear to expect me to put a check in an envelope and put a stamp on the envelope and mail it in. Good thing they don't us a postage prepaid envelope. A person could write "bite me" on the survey, stick it in the envolope, glue the envelope to a brick, and drop the brick into a mailbox. Not that I would do such a thing. I'm basically nice. But I would understand, if somebody did.

In conclusion, it is probably not a surprise that the company I work for likes to survey. The company periodically has a mandatory voluntary survey of employees. It's not a phony survey. The company even honorably publishes the results of the employee survey, to the employees. The survey always has a little place where one can comment by means of writing sentences to supplement marking the little computerized choice boxes. I always offer a few comments, kind of like I might as well as I'm already in the neighborhood, and I feel it is expected of me.

Survey comments are never published.

Basically, surveys suck.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Surveys are handed out to make you feel like the company is taking your opinion seriously, when I'll bet they're all tossed in the trash the next day.

Just like our votes. It's a pointless exercise as the government = kitchen keeps serving up the same shit no matter whose in power.