Those misleading surveys after you get off the phone to Telstra

Do you know the surveys I mean? They’re the ones when you’ve called Telstra – being the starkest example – and had yet another frustrating experience, with a poor customer service or technical support person just putting you through the mandated hoops and it finishes with ‘please stay on the line for a short survey’. It’s those surveys I mean, and here’s the problem…

The surveys are pitched like the organisation cares about your feedback on how it is doing. And I’m absolutely certain the results of the surveys get collated and reported to management at some level. But they are utterly misleading for one simple reason: They don’t separate out the individual person you’ve just spoken to from the organisation you’ve called and they do separate the instance you’ve called about from the flow of a problem.

Was the person able to help you – yes to the best of the ability that Telstra’s systems allow them to. So it’s not fair to give them a bad mark which probably hits their bonus or chance of getting promoted. Were you happy with them? Again often the people you speak to are lovely and try really hard to help in circumstances where they are only marginally more empowered than you are. So, again, not fair to mark them down. Based on the interaction you had today how likely are you to recommend Telstra – well based on the lovely person, very likely; based on the fact that Telstra seems functionally unable to fix even simple problems, not in the slightest. Again why should the employee suffer for the organisation’s failures?

Faced with this sort of survey where I’m being forced to respond ambiguously I tend to just not respond at all, that seeming to be the lesser of two evils. I certainly don’t want Telstra management giving themselves a pat on the back because people are generally satisfied with them, when they are not, and I equally don’t want to hit the poor individual employee with a low score when the dissatisfaction is not really their fault. But by not responding I’m not giving Telstra even a hint of how unhappy I am; which is both useless in terms of customer feedback and also deeply frustrating.

The solution to this is simple for both Telstra, and the others who manipulate the system in this way – for they are not alone. If you actually cared about your customers and your employees you’d make a survey which differentiates between the way the employee has performed and what the organisation’s systems have allowed them to do. Given that is not hard to construct a clear survey, you can only assume that the organisations undertaking the obfuscatory surveys are doing so deliberately and are quite happy with the situation. Sigh.

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