Notice to Corporate America

Please stop sending me “satisfaction” surveys.

I have already rated you, via the marketplace, by choosing to patronize your business with my custom. I do not care to fill out an online survey of any minutes’ duration, given that heartbeats are finite, and time is dear. The only online survey you’ll see from me is my next “buy now” click.

We have just bought a house, which has entailed multiple interactions with various purveyors of goods and services. More fool, I, for giving anyone my email address, because I now have a half dozen surveys in my inbox. I have only two ratings to offer you: 0, if you never hear from me again; 10 if you do. If there’s a problem, I’ll send you an email, in good english, describing the problem and asking for a solution. No visual-analog scale is required for that.

Since we closed on the house late last month, I have received at least four solicitations from the mortgage lender to complete a “satisfaction” survey. The lending officer has practically begged me to complete it, and intimates that “anything less than a 9 or 10 is a zero”. What am I to do with that? I don’t want to hurt the guy, but it was not a “9 or 10” experience. In fact, I’d probably never use this lender again, nor recommend them to anyone else.

Some of that was the lending agent’s fault; not the best communicator to begin with, and AWOL for two weeks during the height of the process. But now this guy gets sent to the gulag or demoted or has his paycheck docked, or doesn’t get a T-shirt, or God knows what else, if I don’t give him and his employer an undeserved 9 or 10 for this particular transaction? The person backing him up was even worse; I don’t think she could put together a coherent sentence if she were testifying at her own parole hearing. Some of it was because of the awful web “portal” I was forced to use for document uploads and “secure” messaging – so secure I usually couldn’t access it. But a good bit of the problem was the post–2008-meltdown regulatory environment; the federal government seems to think it can prevent another housing collapse by keeping qualified borrowers from obtaining funds, while lavishing money on people in politically-favored demographics who have no hope of repaying it.

So, Corporate America, while you await my repeat-business “buy now” click denoting 10-level satisfaction with our previous transaction, maybe you could come up with another way to evaluate and compensate your employees. First question: is your enterprise profitable? If so, then most of your employees are probably doing most things right. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Second, do you get much repeat business? Shouldn’t be too hard to track that. If not, either your product or your service, or both, are shite. Finally, do your employees show up on time and sober, and participate in mandatory company calisthenics and cheers? Do they generally keep their hands off each other while on company time? Sounds like “10’s” across the board.

As examples, look at Southwest Airlines and Enterprise Car Rental. I choose them preferentially over their competitors, even when they aren’t the cheapest option. They treat me like an adult and communicate well, and I don’t think I’ve ever received a survey from either one. You could do a lot worse than to emulate those guys.

Michael Sebastian @mikeseb