I swear, don’t companies bother actually putting ANY of their stuff through QA? Or even CSF (Common Sense Filters)?
I recently bought something at Best Buy locally (darnit, I needed the item immediately, or I would have amazon.com’d it), and while that immediate experience was generally decent, the followup has been so bad it’s laughable.
The checkout process was actually delightful, in whole part due to the cashier being swooningly charming and funny. I’m used to a surly and/or robotic attitude, whereas had this woman been a waitress, I’d have given her a 30% tip. And as I’ve done in the past with other servicemen and women, I had planned on writing a quick note to Corporate praising an employee… but weirdly this person didn’t have a nametag. That’s strike number one: service folks in nearly any industry (credit card, restaurant, hotel, etc.), IMHO, should always introduce themselves by their first and/or full name or wear a name tag to foster accountability. (consumers should also, ideally, take 5 minutes a week to write or call in notes of praise for sterling bus drivers, waiters, nurses, etc… since these folks typically only get COMPLAINTS in this context, but I digress).
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On my receipt, there was a huge portion dedicated to bribing me to take an online survey. Here’s what I noticed:
- It included a Web site but not a phone number. That’s likely a barrier for many folks (not everyone likes filling out surveys on the Web… heck, not EVERYONE, believe it or not, even has Web access… even folks shopping at Best Buy).
- Best Buy follows in the footsteps of other lamebrained companies by procuring a separate domain (not just a subdomain) for a help/survey site. I admit that this might be a smidgen more customer-friendly, but it is, IMHO, a really bad practice overall (what next… bestbuyreturns.com? bestbuysaleitems.com?) Among other things, the proliferation of extra domains per company makes it more difficult to tell which domains are legit (and makes it easier for phishers to ply their viruses and spyware and such).
- It includes three “groups” of numbers that I have to add in, Group A, Group B, and Group C. Maybe I’m really missing something, but how hard would it have been for them to have algorithmically created a simple hash of sorts like “plays43deck” or “spicy19book” etc. That’s a LOT more user friendly than asking a survey taker to input three separate sets of 4-7 digit numbers!
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When I made it to the survey site, I had a choice of selecting one of four cute colored blocks:
– Purchased an item
– Purchased an item AND visited the customer service desk
– Visited customer service desk
– None of the above, just shopped
Aside from the minor possibility that it’s too easy for someone to quickly see “visited customer service desk” and click that without viewing the other options, I have no major gripes about this opener.
* * *
But on one of the (too) many pages of this survey, I’m asked:
“If you visited the Customer Service & Returns counter, please rate your satisfaction with this experience:” [satisfied, very satisfied, etc.]
Well, as I noted in the very first screen, I only “purchased an item” so I left this section blank (there was no option for “n/a”)
Of course — you guessed it — the system complained that I hadn’t answered the customer service & returns counter questions and insisted I did so before continuing. So I’m putting “extremely dissatisfied” for all of those questions, just out of spite.
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In fairness, Best Buy did a few things right:
1) They’re conducting a customer service survey.
2) They’re offering a (ridiculously small but still something) prize to a random lucky sap who takes the survey.
3) They have a free-form box at the end for letting us write comments. A perfect place for me to leave them the URL to this blog entry 😀
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So why am I so annoyed by what’s seemingly such an minor issue? Because, as someone who has worked in customer service before, I’m sick of customer service being often treated like a money sinkhole, something to be “dealt with,” a grudging necessity. Customer service is the lifeblood of a company, and deserves to be addressed front and center… on at least equal footing with Product, Development, R&D, Engineering, etc. And, along those lines, customer service surveys should not be an oft-untested afterthought, dangit. Too often, it’s clear that few if any folks have reviewed the questions being asked… the surveys are too long, too unfocused, and feature too many ambiguous questions or questions for which the answers will not and cannot drive smart policy decisions.
In other words, I’m sick of customer service being second fiddle. It’s time for companies, large and small, to realize that they need to structurally and financially plan for top notch customer service needs from the get-go, not the day after a crisis or the day before a major roll-out.
Whew. Thanks. Now I feel better 🙂