Satisfaction surveys are useless

What’s the point of customer satisfaction surveys?

Let’s talk about customer satisfaction surveys. My car dealership has been sending me an email survey after every single maintenance appointment with the same 20 multiple choice questions. After filling it it out 2-3 times I got fed up. They are pretty persistent and send multiple email reminders, to the point where I added them to my spam list. Here’s the thing: I’m not going to fill out your survey if you don’t care about my response.

Yesterday, they called me to ask how Monday’s oil change went. I told them I was very disappointed; I went in expecting a 30-minute wait and was not informed an additional procedure would take 2 hours. 45 minutes in to my wait, I spoke with them to ask what was taking so long and to inform them I had a meeting to attend. I was told there was 20 minutes left to the job. That ended up being closer to 80 minutes and I missed my meeting. The girl on the phone barely offered an apology and quickly moved to the next line in her script. “Sorry about that….but how was the service? Was the staff courteous and efficient?”.

Your customer satisfaction surveys aren’t telling you the whole story

Being in the space for a few years, I quickly realized what was going on. The manufacturer incentivizes dealerships based on the customer satisfaction scores, so that is the only metric they are interested in collecting data for. Executives are looking to hit specific metrics so they get their bonus, so they keep their job, so they get a promotion, so they are next in line for the CEO role. Those metrics are not necessarily what drive business growth and success. KPIs need to be adapted to what the data is saying.

What about driving sales? Fixing what is broken with your product or service? Try listening to your customers! My car manufacturer spends a lot of money on voice of the customer; they have someone physically calling me and spending 5 minutes on the phone listening to me rant about how my appointment was almost thrice as long as I had expected. But she wasn’t looking for that information and probably won’t report it back to the organization. But THAT is what is broken with the experience, that is what needs to be fixed!

It’s the same with media spend; why are corporations spending millions of dollars in TV advertisements when they themselves fast forward commercials at every opportunity. When watching a live event, the same executives that sign 7 figure checks for media spend pull out their phone to catch up on email and social. But traditional media is how it has always been done and internal customer satisfaction scores have not followed the business trend. In this day and age, it is so easy for competitors to swipe up market share. The cost and barrier to entry is low due to modern technology and cloud computing. Attention can be won by a single viral social media post and brand recognition can be built very quickly.

Will it take the demise of a few F1000s for large corporations to adapt? In the meantime, small, nimble business will keep clawing away at market share.


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