Yesterday, for the second time in recent memory, I had a befuddling experience as a customer that I hope won't be (but fear might be) a new trend in customer communications.
I called my phone company to change some features of my service. After a pleasant, efficient, and perfectly adequate transaction, the customer service representative ended the call by asking me, in a hopeful tone, "If a third party were to contact you regarding your level of satisfaction with my service today, would you be likely to say that you were either satisfied or very satisfied?"
Right there and then, my satisfaction level dropped significantly. Although I couldn't immediately identify what irked me so much about this odd conclusion to the call, I intuitively felt that it represented a backward step in what I'll call the "customer experience movement."
Was it the wonky syntax of the question? The lack of options for any rating below "satisfied"? The introduction of a hypothetical third party who would ask me the exact same question that the first party was asking me right there and then? I'm still not sure. But I do know that it had nothing to do with the customer service rep herself–she did just fine.
We hung up, but the call lingered in my mind (especially because as I mentioned above, this wasn't an isolated incident). Here's a behemoth communications company who likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars planning and executing this customer feedback campaign. How can they possibly believe, in late 2009, that this is a winning strategy?
I'm all for companies polling their customers and using that data to improve products, services, and policies. It just seems to me that their method for doing so ought to be one which: a) encourages honest, open, and specific feedback; b) recognizes that the feedback channel is part of the customer's experience and should therefore aim to make it a pleasant one; and c) gathers information not only on the transaction but on the customer's overall impression of the company. For me, the phone company missed the mark on all three criteria.
When on the call, I didn't have the presence of mind to give this feedback directly to the customer service rep (and besides, I suspect that doing so would have unfairly resulted in a less-than-stellar rating for her individual performance).
I did attempt to complete a feedback form on the company's website, but oddly the automated system wasn't set up to receive feedback from customers regarding the topic of customer feedback.
So, I don't mean to sound snarky, but I'm just wondering: Can they hear me now?