Please take a moment…

I wrote about the proliferation of customer satisfaction surveys in 2020 during the general Covid-related slowdown of the economy.  It was bad enough then but now the economy is in full swing again, they’ve become downright inescapable. 

This thought occurred to me when I hovered the mouse over my laptop screen one recent morning, and up popped a regular pop-up on the weather widget asking ‘has this been a good use of your time?’ before I’d even had a chance to register the top temperature!   

So much routine business is conducted by mobile phone these days – appointments, reminders – don’t get me started on reminders – and increasingly, receipting.  With the receipt comes the inevitable request for feedback.

Banks, chemists, Australia Post, Aurora… they all want feedback.  The locksmith who did 15 minutes’ work, the gardening franchise that lopped my tree, my mobile phone service provider – they’re all so needy! 

Some of them want a free plug and are willing to bribe you:  I bought a new jacket and got a text from the brand asking me to post a glowing review on their website with a headline.  They said they’d put me in the draw for a $100 voucher.  Nup.  Get back to me with a better deal and I’ll think about it.

The optometrist who sold me my first reading-glasses sent a lengthy survey.  Apart from the usual how do you rate our staff, our service, our product etc etc on a scale from one to ten, they wanted to know how I had heard about them and why I chose them. The truth was, I’d gone into the first place that looked like an optometrist and didn’t have a queue. 

Because I’m signed up to ABC iView and SBS On Demand they’re always surveying me and wanting to know how likely I am to recommend programs to friends and family, and it’s always on a scale from one to ten. It’s a stupid question because I might love a show, but I know others who’ll hate it.  They should have an ‘it depends’ option.   I usually choose 5 to indicate ‘it depends’, even if I like the program.  That’ll show ‘em.

Why don’t I just delete or ignore surveys? you ask. Well, I have given up on the ABC and SBS surveys because despite my repeated grizzling about it over the years, they never asked the questions I really wanted to answer like ‘what shows do you hate and why?’ 

Otherwise, I admit the problem is of my own making as I can never resist when someone asks for my opinion.  Accommodation providers in particular.  On the home front, it’s practically a civic duty to review the likes of Air BnB and Stayz.  It’s almost fun, because there are so many different ways individual property-owners can annoy (old fridge badly needs defrosting) or delight you (ooh look!  Fresh bread and butter!)  

In exotic destinations, I always fill out the little paper surveys left behind in hotel rooms, even in places like Timbuktoo I know I’ll never go back to.  Where they ask about what we could do better I generally resist the temptation to make grumpy suggestions about the silencing of local dogs and entertainment venues, but I invariably plead for better sound-proofing, adjustable air-conditioning and the option of something midway between a doona and a sheet for a bed cover. 

I fly back and forth across Bass Strait a lot to visit family and friends in Victoria. 

Jetstar is forever sending me surveys minutely interrogating me on staff attitude, flight punctuality, booking process, check-in process, boarding process, in-flight service, disembarking process and so on.  All on a scale of one to ten – how likely would I be to recommend?  Then, having asked me about each of these separately, they ask for a similar scale-of-one-to-ten recommendation likelihood overall!!

I keep doing the surveys in hopes that one day they’ll deem me some kind of super-customer and give me free flights.  Besides, I want to give them a piece of my mind about what they could do to improve my flying experience.  TURN DOWN THE VOLUME OF YOUR IN-FLIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS, I invariably say.  WE AREN’T ALL DEAF.  And I add:  give your staff some training in vocal technique so they don’t sound like amplified buzz-saws! 

This is the cake-taker: before a recent flight I bought a newspaper at the airport. And I kid you not – I was asked to review THAT fleeting experience! 

This article was first published in The New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News on 18.8.23