Can I ask you a question? OK. Can I ask you another question? And another, and another and another? If you’re like me, your email box is is stuffed with surveys that seem to pop up almost as soon as you’ve walked into a store, checked out of a hotel, debarked from a flight or stumbled out of a schvitz. It’s getting ridiculous.
One day I expect to receive a survey from my lungs asking how satisfied I was with my last 9,000 breaths and how likely would I choose them to process my subsequent breaths..on a scale of 1 to 5, of course.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate a business asking for input as a means of improving their product or service. My only regret is, to respond to every survey I receive would mean answering to my family and friends as to what I’d been doing for the last six days. “Oh, just answering some questions,” I could reply, which would, I’m sure spark the rejoinder, “here’s a question. Are you an idiot?”
Sometimes I actually warm to the task, especially if I’ve had an extremely positive or negative experience. True story: recently we checked into a mid-priced hotel for a two-day stay. Everything seemed fine…at first. We went about our business for the day and when we returned for the evening discovered a little surprise in the shower..a still-wet washcloth hanging over the tub. Maybe the housekeeper needed to hose off after a vigorous vacuuming of our room, or the hotel offered “pre-soaked terry cloth” as an un-advertised feature. Either way, it was gross. I gently removed it and tossed it in a corner where we would eventually dump the rest of our wet towels. No, I didn’t ring up the front desk because honestly, we had a full schedule and didn’t want to get involved. I also knew I’d be receiving a survey by the time we got home, which we did.
In the section asking if there was anything about my stay that was less than satisfactory, I related my encounter with the wet wash cloth. The next day I received a very apologetic email from the manager who asked if I’d like to have a phone conversation about the incident, I guess, so she could ask me more questions. Seems pretty cut and not-dry. What more could she ask? Maybe, “did you not appreciate not having to soak the wash cloth before using it? Many of our busy business travelers appreciate saving those 20 seconds.” I graciously thanked her for her response but declined the phone call.
On the other hand, I’m very happy to point out excellent service or the fine quality of a product, if asked. Sometimes, however, even a compliment is not accepted well. I once wrote positive thoughts about our experience at a restaurant located in a Michigan casino. The manager thanked me for the nice review then asked, “what didn’t you like about our other restaurants? Huh? Oh..well..the restaurant we ended up at just had a shorter line but ended up serving fine food accompanied by super service. Sheesh. Take a compliment and shut up!
The airline survey is the one that gets me the most. Unless you’re in first class you know the experience is pretty much gonna suck from being herded through airport security, to wrestling for an overhead bin with a guy trying to store his cello up there, to having to hold your breath on a transcontinental flight because the guy sitting next to you is wearing Eau d’Possum cologne to gagging on the bag of trail mix you bought for a buck because they ran out of free beverages.
So when I ultimately receive the airline’s survey I find it’s much quicker and easier to complete by skipping all the “on a scale of 1-5” questions and going right to the field asking for comments where I can write, “my ordeal on your airline actually made me covet the experience of a feed lot hog awaiting its metamorphosis from living being into pork chops.” Curiously, I never receive a follow up email requesting I expand on my thoughts.
I think it might be fun sometime to turn the tables and reply to the survey senders with a a survey of my own. I might ask questions such as:
1-On a scale of 1-5, how do you think you treated me?
2-On a scale of 1-5, how satisfying do you think your “free” breakfast offerings are which consist of toast, greasy breakfast sandwiches, watery oatmeal and a waffle maker that always seems to be fought over by 3 old guys who may not live long enough to see hear the beep when their waffles are done?
3-How would you characterize the stains on the carpeting?
a-usual shit hotel guests drop and don’t clean up
b-detritus from “trucker’s night” in the lobby lounge
c-evidence in recent homicide disguised as “prom night faux pas”
4-Would YOU stay at your hotel? Only available choice, “NFW!”
So..what do you think? On a scale of 1-5, of course.