Allow customers to give honest feedback
This post was first published in 2010, but I still see this approach six years later and remains as relevant today as it did back then!
Point of sale research is pointless!
When I picked up my new car from our local dealer a couple of days ago I struggled to suppress a smile when the salesman handed me a questionnaire for me to complete in front of him (which also needed signing), and then showed me another questionnaire (from the manufacturer) that I should receive in a few weeks, explaining that he is assessed on customers’ responses to this particular question circled here, yadder yadder yadder…
When I picked up my last car (different make and dealer) I was offered an incentive of £15 of fuel if I brought the questionnaire into the garage to go through the feedback with them (“so they could have a chance to resolve any issues”).
The irony is that both salesmen/garages were fine – I was more than satisfied with the experience, the only thing they could have improved was the price (and I really wanted to go back to the first garage to buy our next car but they just don’t offer a model that fits our bigger family requirements, sorry).
Asking a customer to fill in a survey in front of your staff is wrong. And if your dealers/store managers/employees are compelled to “improve” their score by helping customers to fill in the survey you have a problem.
It’s easy to see why this is a bad approach to fielding customer satisfaction surveys. When I was about 10 or 11 we had our windows at home replaced with uPVC windows and I remember my mum complaining about the mess the installer made. When the job was finished she was asked to fill in a very short questionnaire and I watched the biro hover over the less than satisfied option before she swiftly ticked top-box, top-box, top-box for each question and handed it back. “Why didn’t you say anything?” I asked my mum.
The mess probably wasn’t all that bad and didn’t take much to put right (hoover and a few minutes each window I should think). Was it a one-off or a recurring issue? The installer’s manager would never know what the customers really thought.
The issue for employees feeling pressured to improve their score (or ‘gaming’) is more difficult to resolve, and my response if this is the case is …
- perhaps the targets that trigger bonuses are simply too high (initially),
- scores fluctuate too wildly and/or not enough responses to provide reliable scores (if an employee’s score is based on 6 or 7 customer contacts then gaming just 2 results contributes to 33% of the score), or
- staff don’t have confidence in the process and/or feel penalised because of factors outside of their control (a delivery delay or the terms of the warranty are corporate issues – not down to the individual).
Finally, what purpose is the survey for? The example questionnaire I saw at the garage on Friday asked more of “did the salesman explain gap insurance?” and “did the salesman offer you our finance?” than “did we mess up?” and “how can we improve?” – which is more about conformance to procedures than customer satisfaction. Don’t mix the two.