Are You Satisfied? Are You Satisfied?

It’s funny how the mind can come to associate things.

For example, whenever I think about customer satisfaction suveys, I can’t help but think about a particular scene from the 1976 movie Marathon Man. In this particular scene, Laurence Olivier, who plays an evil dentist, is torturing Dustin Hoffman by drilling his teeth. Hoffman’s brother was a CIA agent (or something like that), and Olivier thinks Hoffman has some secret info. As he’s drilling, Olivier is asking “Is it safe? Is it safe?” Hoffman has no clue what Olivier is talking about. But, finally, the pain is too much, and Hoffman yells “It’s safe! It’s safe!”

This is how I feel with customer satisfaction surveys. It seems, sometimes and with some firms, that after every transaction or interaction, I’m getting asked “Are you satisfied? Are you satisfied?” And I just want to yell “I’m satisfied! I’m satisfied”, just to make them to stop asking.

Apparently, some consumers have the opposite experience. Listen to what Bill had to say about his experience with a homebuilder he did business with:

The sales associate said that the company sends each customer a survey to take after the home is complete. But…in the same breath [he] said, “and for those that come in and fill out the survey with me, I will give them a $50 gift certificate to the place of their choice.”

I’m not trying to disparage customer satisfaction surveys. This isn’t just Marketing’s problem (for a change). It’s Marketing’s and HR’s. Whenever you tie bonuses and incentives to something like customer surveys, you’re bound to get employees who will try to game the system. Marketing and HR have to step up to plate and (at the least):

1) Determine who needs to be surveyed for their opinion and how often. Isn’t it more important that a firm’s best customers (current and future potential) be satisfied? But how many firms limit satisfaction surveys to their best customers?

2) Create policies that forbid “buying” good scores. It won’t stop everyone — but it’s a start.

Let’s reward the people who earn the satisfaction and referrals of the right customers.

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2 thoughts on “Are You Satisfied? Are You Satisfied?

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  2. Ron,

    This is “the” Bill mentioned in the post (thanks for the link). I think you hit it on head when you said, “This isn’t just Marketing’s problem (for a change). It’s Marketing’s and HR’s.”

    I am convinced that some people will try to game any system they are given. I agree that when you tie bonuses to performance you need to take measures to ensure candid responses (maybe recorded, third party telephone interviews).

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