Measuring Customer Service

OCT 29, 2012 1:25pm ET

This past summer I bought a brand new Mini Cooper. I love the car! It is fun, funky and stylish—and silly all at once, a true reflection of me which is why I selected the car.

While I have never really enjoyed the car buying process, I really enjoyed the sales manager at this dealership. He seemed to be a sales professional who cared about many of the same things that I do in terms of running a sales organization: truth, integrity, service and building connections and relationships that create brand and institutional loyalty.

At the end of the process he told me that I would be sent a survey from the company and that if I did not respond to every question with a “10” on a scale of 1 to 10, it would reflect badly on him. While I genuinely liked this salesperson and believe he did a good job, I was put off by his request.

Just last week my husband went back to the same dealership to purchase a completely different brand of car. He sought out my Mini sales manager to say hello and to let him know that we were in fact loyal clients making a second car purchase in a matter of months. My husband was greeted unhappily because apparently the sales manager was told that I completed the survey and didn't give him all "10's"!

Only last week did I finally received a survey in the mail for the car purchase. It is 10 pages long, and one category alone has 69 questions! I have not completed this survey nor have I received any other surveys since I purchased the Mini Cooper in June.

As I thought about this experience I asked myself: why do companies survey their clients? We survey ours here at Fairway because we honestly want to know how our clients and the professionals who refer them to us feel about their experience with our organization.  

As a manager I want to know how my people are performing, where we may have issues that need to be addressed either with employees or processes. As a sales person the surveys provide me insight into my own client relationships and where I personally can improve.

Because of the value I place on the feedback I get from my own company's surveys, I complete surveys I receive from other businesses and organizations because I assume that my feedback is just as important to them. Otherwise, why bother?

What does a company gain when the clients are asked to respond only favorably to a client survey? How does a sales person improve and how does the business know how their people are performing when the client is put in the uncomfortable position of being asked (almost begged) to respond a certain way to a survey? What if I actually had some really valuable insight as to how the dealership could improve their customer experience? I had decided from day one that I would simply ignore the survey rather than let down my friend the sales manager or lie on the survey- something I just would not do!

The real misfortune in all of this was that if I had not been admonished to "only give 10's" and had actually received a brief, convenient survey (via email) shortly after the actual purchase, I would have been happy to fill it out and would have absolutely had nothing but high marks for the sales manager!

On the other hand, I did have some feedback that I believe would have been helpful for them related to the purchase process. It got me thinking about our own process and the impact on the client, especially in light of new rules and regulations being imposed on the industry. Stay tuned next week for Part II of "Measuring Customer Service."

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