Attention Big Chains — Your Employees are Skewing Your Surveys – DUH

Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a rant.  As someone who works with corporate clients and who implements and runs customer surveys I can completely appreciate the effort — but what’s the point if it’s not generating the desired results.  Or is it?  

Even before I begin my article, I’m going to make a request for comments here because, as I often say, I’m NOT a professional market researcher.  I am a marketing practitioner, and strategist, and NOT a statistician or quant and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from you folks so that you can explain it to me and the rest of our readership — how this really works on the court (as they say).  iStock_000006304060XSmall

Customer service surveys on receipts — WTF

During the weekend, I run a lot of errands and most of those errands include retail locations and restaurants.  Every time I complete my purchasing or consuming experience, I get a receipt and the check out person or wait staff member tells me to “go to the link on the receipt and complete a web survey” and I will receive some MOST AWESOME discount or coupon.  They know and I know that I will not do it – and the whole thing just dies.  Of course, I hear that SOME folks do it.  In fact, a bartender at a local restaurant told me that each day she hands out 4,000 receipts and about 25 people answer the survey.  So there you have it.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad — it’s just what she said.

But then something else that’s interesting happened at this restaurant.  My husband and I were hanging out at the bar along with another couple — that we just happened to have started chatting with.  The bartender says (to the other couple”  How would you like to save $5 on your mean today?  If you go to the survey that’s on the receipt right now and give me the completion code, I will be able to take $5 off the meal.”  Then she says something like “Just make sure to give me all 5’s (excellent rating) ha ha ha”

As the woman next to me started taking the survey — she was blown away by the number of questions that there were — I think it was something like 20; everything from portion size to whether or not the manager came to our table.  She continued with the survey — only because the server was there and, of course, the promise of the discount.

Several things struck me about this experience:

  1. Why didn’t WE get the survey and the opportunity to take it there and save $5 — what’s up with that?
  2. What impact does the servers input have on the results
  3. Does every server do this?  And if so, how do the corporate folks deal with the results.
  4. Employees’ futures are determined by the responses on the surveys

What role do employees have in the results

As I mentioned earlier, it’s clear that corporations use customer satisfaction survey results to measure employee performance.  Granted this isn’t the only thing that’s considered, but it certainly seemed like an important element.

Another interesting experience I had was with a repair technician who came to my home to fix my dishwasher.  He had a computer with him and after the completion of the service, he completed the survey form me and only gave me the pen to sign and complete the transaction.  Of course, he gave himself all 5’s.  While I do feel that surveys are sometimes a pain, I sort of felt a little left out of the process not being given the chance to give my input.  I was busy and decided to let it go.  But it left me thinking about how often this happens and what that means to the folks who are making decisions based on this data.

Now, I’d like to hear from all of YOU experts and practitioners — what’s been your experience with these kinds of surveys and if you work with these results — how do you regulate these kinds of “errors”?