The Doc­tor’s Surgery Tom Stuttaford

The Oldie - - NEWS -

The value of feed­back in­for­ma­tion has to be sus­pect, as the peo­ple most likely to re­spond are the se­ri­ously dis­grun­tled or those with time on their hands, which does not de­liver a bal­anced sam­ple. And one cus­tomer’s ‘good’ rat­ing will be an­other’s ‘poor’.

Does any­one at the other end read your an­swers any­way? I have won­dered about that many times this sum­mer.

Fol­low­ing a trip on the Rocky Moun­taineer train in Canada, I re­ceived a ‘guest sat­is­fac­tion survey’, which ran to forty-six ques­tions; some in­clud­ing up to ten sub-di­vi­sions. There were ques­tions they al­ready knew the an­swer to (‘Where did you get off the train?’) and oth­ers that were im­per­ti­nent and ir­rel­e­vant (‘How much do you usu­ally spend on a hol­i­day, and what is your an­nual house­hold in­come?’). I re­fused to tell them.

Bri­tish Air­ways said its feed­back form would take only twelve min­utes to com­plete, though I did not put this to the test. It must as­sume theirs was the only feed­back re­quest I re­ceived but ev­ery ho­tel also wanted me to tell them how much I had en­joyed my stay.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions are be­ing pres­sured into this feed­back frenzy by a com­par­a­tively new ‘cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence’ in­dus­try, which makes money from telling com­pa­nies they must de­velop long-term re­la­tion­ships with cus­tomers. (This is at odds with the mar­ket­ing strat­egy of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, which re­wards new cus­tomers at the ex­pense of loyal ones.)

Ac­cord­ing to cus­tomer ser­vice ex­perts, the eas­i­est and cheap­est way to per­suade peo­ple they are val­ued is to send out feed­back forms, with the re­as­sur­ance that there are good rea­sons for ask­ing so many prob­ing ques­tions.

Cheap­skate com­pa­nies can down­load cus­tomer survey tem­plates free – they do not even need to think up ques­tions. No won­der we are fed up with feed­back.

‘She’s not as ac­tive since her breast im­plants’

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