On Customer Service Surveys

Companies want my email address these days. The worst part of this is that I’m paying them to take my email address. Well I’m actually paying them to perform some service or for some commercial good and in the process they find sneaky ways to ask for my email address.

I’m smart enough not to bother to fill out the online surveys at the bottom of receipts that offer a chance to win a gift card. The odds of winning are not worth setting my spam filter for each company.

But some stores hook me by offering decent deals with discount cards and rewards clubs. Like Best Buy and their 2% gift coupon reward system that gives me a five dollar coupon for every $250 I spend. I can tolerate the weekly ad emailed to me for the extra $10 to $20 a year I get from this. There is a small but solid benefit here for me to give them my email address. I also have a system that lets me track if they sell my email address or have a security breach that release my email address to the wild interwebs.

And then there are those big purchases that you want to maintain a relationship with the seller – like a car. I do really like my Nissan cube. I’m not very fond of my Nissan dealer at the moment. This morning I felt compelled to fill out a customer satisfaction survey for an oil change they did for me that I had nothing to do with.

When I bought my car from Sid Dillon, they asked for my email address to keep me up to date on recalls and service offers, etc. I certainly wanted to know when it turned out my airbags might not be installed correctly.

Being manly, I feel the need to mention that I do know how to change my own oil. I just prefer to pay someone else to do it. And I want them to have a service record in case I need warranty covered repairs.

I now regret taking my car to Sid Dillon for my last oil change even if they did fix that airbag installation while they had it. I received several requests to complete a customer satisfaction survey. Since my wife handled the appointment and the drop off, I don’t really have any information to offer them. I ignored the first couple requests. To be fair, the emails came from Nissan North America and not Sid Dillon directly.

But they kept coming. They have a between the lines jibe at me, mocking my sense of responsibility. It reads “You should have recently received an invitation to provide feedback on your recent experience. If you have already given your feedback, please ignore this reminder.” It’s never said that I’m slacking by not replying but it’s definitely there between the lines. I hate marketing professionals who understand how to manipulate people through unused language.

Today was the last straw. I went ahead and filled out the survey, hoping to find an option to say that I was not involved with the process. Instead I had to rate several aspects of their service and professionalism on a scale from 1-10 (might have been 0-10). I used the ‘1’ option as a “Does not apply to me” button and then proceeded to lambast their survey collection methods in any text box they offered. I was most polite but I let them know I was peeved. In fact at one time I even used the exact words “I am peeved.”

I’d think they’d have taken the hint, when I didn’t respond to their earlier email attempts, that I either didn’t want to respond or didn’t feel the need to respond. Statisticians understand that a lack of survey response is not a bad reaction. They know that happy customers don’t comment as often as those that are dissatisfied. They can work with a collection of nothing but negative responses and generate a statistically sound dataset saying how well they are doing in customer service. There is no need to hound me for answers I can’t give. Even if they didn’t know I was barely involved with the oil change experience, they should have respected my declining to respond to their first emailed requests.
Nissan referred to this opportunity to give feedback as an invitation. An invitation is traditionally responded to as a RSVP. The usual RSVP include an option to decline.

To my knowledge the oil change was performed satisfactorily and I’m happy with their decision to fix the recalled airbag problem while it was in for the oil change. Also, when I had my car in Sid Dillon’s body shop after some teenager ran a red light and hit my car, the cube was restored to pristine condition in a timely manner, though they didn’t fill the window washer reservoir, which they replaced.

Sid Dillon may not be at fault in this survey scandal. But Nissan’s corporate pushiness has made me more likely to find alternate places to have my regular services done for my cube.


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