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Quit Measuring My Satisfaction

You wish

It seems like everyone has joined the customer satisfaction bandwagon these days. Everyone wants to measure your satisfaction, no matter how trivial the transaction. Last week, I had a brief conversation with the young man cleaning my hotel room in India. He could barely speak English, but one thing he did know was how to ask me to fill out the comment card. I didn’t mind doing it for him, because I thought I could help him look good and maybe get some benefit out of it. Of course, in order to do so, I may have embellished a little bit; by the time I was done he was a modern-day Gunga Din.

That points out part of the problem for companies trying to measure customer satisfaction—the measurement process itself can distort the actual satisfaction felt.

In that example, I made things seem better than they were, but sometimes it works  in reverse. When I work in San Diego, I sometimes order room service at the end of a long day, and then go to bed early because my body is still on East Coast time. But inevitably, just after I have fallen asleep, the phone rings, and it’s the hotel staff asking me if my meal was satisfactory. It took me a couple of times and a few choice words before I was able to train them not to do that.

So, companies clearly have a measurement problem. Since they are ostensibly making important decisions based on the data they collect, surely they are making some wrong decisions? (Of course, we might be more eager to provide feedback if we thought it would lead to actual changes…)

They also have a motivation problem. Lexus says “we value your opinion”. That’s the problem: you may value it, but I don’t. There is no tangible or immediate link between my time invested in letting you know about my customer experience and any measurable return to me.

In closing, I’m reminded of what a friend of mine told his wife when she complained that he didn’t tell her he loved her. He responded: “I told you I love you when I married you. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.”

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