Customer Service Surveys for Huge, Global, Monolithic Corporations

Lately I’ve developed an interest in business. I’ve even considered pursuing an MBA as my next educational step. I had to take a business class to finish my IT degree at the University of Phoenix, and that class really piqued my interest. As I go along, I try to figure out why businesses do the idiotic things that they do.

I’m currently staying at the Marriot Courtyard North in Charlottesville, VA. For whatever reason, I like the Courtyard brand. I don’t know if it’s the colors or the slightly-better-than-the-Fairfield accommodations, but I do like to stay at Courtyards when I can. I actually prefer the Springhill Suites, but they are not widespread and I have to get a business rate to stay there. The last time I stayed at this hotel, I got an email survey asking what I thought. The survey asked questions about how I perceived that Marriot cared about me as a person and met my needs. To be honest, I thought the whole thing was really cheesy. Sending me an email link to a survey only serves to make me feel like a statistic rather than a valued customer.

I notice this trend all over though. At work, one of our networks is serviced by a large conglomerate. I had to call the Customer Service line once because I was having trouble accessing the webmail client, and I had a trip coming up, so lack of webmail would have been catastrophic to my ability to do my job while away. It turned out that the call was a simple fix. They were implementing a single-sign-on, and I just had to enter another URL which hadn’t been publicized to the organization, and my webmail worked. At that point, it was right before a major meeting with our vendor and I had a buttload of requirements to review and meetings to attend about those requirements prior to the meeting. Every day for about 5 days, I got a voicemail from somebody on that helpline asking me how their service was. I finally emailed them back saying something like “my lack of a response should indicate satisfaction. I have enough to do that I would only call you back if I had a problem. You can stop calling me now.”

I notice that large, multi-national, monolithic corporations seem to have resorted to the survey as some kind of measurement of customer satisfaction. I have no idea why. I had to call Best Buy to order a new battery for my laptop before my warranty expired. They actually sent me an email asking me to participate in a survey about how well the call went. Seriously! It’s not like I don’t have enough to do. Most of these surveys seem to be poorly written anyway, and might as well contain a text block asking “How did we make you feel?”

As I study business, and hope to somehow complete an MBA, I really want to understand this. The trend lately has been toward really large businesses that own everything. I’m sure there are a lot of advantages to this approach. Sometimes, I wish we had small, locally accountable businesses. If you saw my last post on AT&T, AT&T is a huge, global, monolithic corporation with very little competition. Seriously, if I told AT&T that I was sick of their crap and I was leaving, they would probably tell me not to let the door hit me in the butt and of course would demand that I pay some kind of contract termination fee even though I’m not sure they’ve upheld their end of our contract. If AT&T were a local business, I could march down do their office and demand that they either fix my problem or I’m leaving, and chances are I would get satisfaction. They’re large enough not to miss me or really care about me. I have been asked to complete surveys after calls to AT&T, but I finally gave up and hung up the phone.

These surveys if anything give me the impression that these monolithic corporations, rather than care about how I “feel”, are insecure about their own image. Of course, the surveys are always crafted and hosted by a 3rd party. I do like the Marriott Courtyard brand, but I am not going to fill out an email survey after this stay. If I check out without complaint, they can just assume I had no problems.

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