Life Day By Day

Service, surveys and feedback

Service may come first but after service there are surveys and feedback. It seems that everyone these days after providing a service is asking me to complete a survey or give feedback. What happens to all this feedback collected mostly via short surveys and some not so short? The rationale for feedback is to improve customer service. But are we all suffering from feedback fatigue?

I do like to give compliments and positive feedback where it is deserved but this endless invitation to complete surveys and give feedback is very bothersome. It usual takes longer than indicated for these endless requests for feedback. Does it improve the service? When I receive an email asking for feedback, I immediately reach for the delete key. This is the key to happiness. If you want a happy life very rarely give feedback, only when you think it will make a difference. But then how can you tell? You can’t. So just make a decision and if it really matters to you and you have time for feedback – go ahead!

What I am finding is that every where I go the service I expect is often missing. Last week my sister and I, with our 92-year-old mother went to the bank to start her enduring power of attorney (EPOA). My sister Christine and I met on the Gold Coast, she lives on the Atherton Tableland and I live in Toowoomba. We did not give a thought to making an appointment, before arriving at the bank. We are from the “old school” you turn up at the bank and receive a service! The bank employee told us he had a 3pm, 3.30pm and 4pm appointment. It was 2.40pm. After directing us to a waiting room he taped a few keys on his computer and proceeded with our request. Fortunately, my sister and her husband had several bank accounts with the bank and this streamlined the process. We left the bank at 3.15pm. The 3pm appointment did not show, maybe a 3pm afternoon tea appointment?

Then yesterday I went to the bank (a different bank then the one visited last week) to close an account. My experience of the past is that I line up see a teller or another bank employee when it is convenient for me to arrive at the bank. Yesterday I turned up at the bank and I was greeted by an employee with an iPad in their hand asking how she could help? All I wanted to do was to close an account that was no longer required. Then I was told I could be given an appointment in 20 minutes. After a few cerebral gymnastics of considering my predicament, I decided to take the offer. Then I went to meet my O&O (only & only) who was busy with another errand. On the way back to the bank I received a text advising me that I had a 40-minute appointment at 12.20pm, all because I was closing an account! By the time I met up with my O&O and walked back to the bank it was 12.23pm. I was late as my O&O reminded me!

We were ushered into to our appointed bank employee at a desk with a computer who asked why we were closing the account? We still had other accounts with the bank, so we were not deserting the banking institution for another one. Closing the account ended up with a review of our financial situation with the bank and recommendations and an offer of new products that would give us a better interest rate. The interest rate offered was higher than what was on offer on their website. This was one of those days when waiting for a service after making an appointment paid off!

What about companies that ask you to stay on the phone to give feedback. I had two of those invitations today from energy companies. I had spent around 5-6 minutes listening, pressing buttons and verifying my ID information. I then spent about 1-2 minutes speaking to the employee and I was asked to hold the line and give feedback! Generally, I don’t like giving negative feedback, after all I am sure everyone is trying to do their best. If I had I would have given the top score on each question. What does that tell the company? The employee was efficient, polite and I got the result I was after?

Wind swept but happy customers on a Tasmanian holiday. Nothing but good feedback for the tour operator AAPT.

Does customer feedback improve services? Companies have so much information at their fingertips these days. They know what makes a good business, they know what people like – people like service, well-informed and friendly employees, a smile, attentiveness and a little respect goes a long way. The customer should reciprocate with attentiveness, politeness and gratitude for the service. All a customer wants is to walk away with our problem solved or to have received the service expected and at times also paid for. If not, we can always walk away and not return. Sometimes when a service is not what we expect we can give the unwritten and unspoken feedback – we vote with our feet and never return – it is as simple as that!

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