Monday, December 3, 2012

Your opinion is important to us...

Yesterday, I was making a purchase at the drugstore and they asked if I had a membership card. I said I didn't, they scanned a card, gave it to me and told me to register it when I got home. When I got home, it went into the recycling bin, just like it has every time I've bought something there.

I get emails asking me to rate my customer service experience every time I buy something online. The local restaurants have phone numbers at the bottom of the receipts, asking me to call in and take their customer service survey.

Every time I buy something in person, I have to tell the people at the cash register:
  • I don't have the store loyalty card, and I don't want it, thank you
  • you may not have my phone number
  • or my email address
  • or my zip code
  • I don't have the store credit card, and I don't want it, not even for 15% off my first purchase
I understand that customer service is an important part of a business, and the best way to find out is to ask the customer. But it has gone beyond asking and become pestering. I can't even avoid this by shopping online, because once they have your email address, they ask you to rate your purchase. Amazon and eBay give you a handy 1-5 star rating system, but won't accept the ratings until you type in a comment. I have nothing to say.

Occasionally, rarely, I want to give feedback. Last year I had a long (13 hour) layover, so I booked a night at the airport hotel. The night arrived, something happened with the airlines and the line to get into the hotel was out the door and down the hall. It was crazy. The hotel staff managed it beautifully. So when I got the inevitable customer service email I wrote a glowing review. I felt they deserved the praise.  Then I got an avalanche of emails: like us on Facebook, rate us on Yelp, join our customer loyalty program, on and on and on.

It made me regret saying anything at all.

Does this actually improve customer service? Or just fool companies into thinking they are?


  1. I had to ponder on this post for a little while, because it's something I struggle with as well--but from the other side of the table.

    As a business owner, the only way I can ensure we improve as a company is by understanding our clients' perspectives on what we're like to work with and how they felt about the work we did. As a marketer--my company is a marketing services company--it's very hard to know what's working if we can't get feedback from the market.

    Yet marketers and business owners are legion. Every company you encounter has both functions (even if they're charged to just one person). This means we inundate clients/customers to the point of incredible frustration.

    What to do? Is there some innovative and appreciated way to solicit opinions without annoying the heck out of everyone? That's the challenge. It's one we try to figure out constantly.


    1. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it as an attack on your profession. I'm totally in favor of advertising and marketing. I just don't want to be Facebook friends with my grocery store.

  2. No offense taken, I promise! More a sincere query on how we can get feedback without being annoying. If it's any consolation to you, at least we KNOW we're being annoying. :) And would like to find some nonannoying way to get the same information!