Please take a moment …..

What is it with goods and services these days?  You can’t just walk into a shop and buy something, you have to do a post-mortem on it. 

Time was, if you got good service and a good product, you were a happy customer.  If there was a problem and they fixed it or gave you your money back, you stayed a happy customer and all parties said thank you.  You told your mates and word got around that this was a good business.  Nowadays…

Nowadays, a simple ‘thank you’ is woefully inadequate. 

I went to buy some socks this winter.  A pleasant and helpful saleswoman helped me choose two pairs of reasonably-priced socks which turned out to be warm and comfy.  You’d think that would be the end of it but no, next day I get an email from them. 

  Hi Anne,

Thanks for shopping at Hobart.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our customer service and store standards, and we’d love it if you could give us some feedback on your most recent visit.


The (name of business) Team

Aha.  So that business about saving the planet one electronic receipt at a time was just a ruse to get my email address so they could send me the obligatory Customer Satisfaction Survey.  For buying two pairs of socks?  In and out in five minutes?  But they were nice folks so what the heck. 

Well they wanted to know whether I completely disagreed, somewhat disagreed, neither agreed nor disagreed, somewhat agreed or completely agreed with the following statements:  that their prices were competitive, that their staff were responsive to my needs, that they were knowledgeable, that I found the products I was after, that I was confident the products would meet my needs, that it was easy to find what I was looking for and that the store was clean and tidy.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.   Is that all? 

No.  They then wanted to know, based on my recent visit, and on a scale of one to ten, how likely I was to recommend them to my friends and colleagues and could I please go into detail about my answer?  Oh for heaven’s sake.  Yes, I would recommend them, but what more could I say?  At this point I was getting a bit narky and I said something along the lines of ‘I chose you because you were the first sock shop I came to.’  

Surely that was all?  Alas no.  What could we do to improve your shopping experience?

I was tempted to put down something smartarse like ‘ply me with free food and alcohol’, but my patience had run out and I simply said ‘nothing’.  In retrospect I should have said:  Don’t waste my time with these silly surveys!

I keep a tally of places that ask me to do surveys.  They include the local deli, which has, or had, a little touchscreen at the exit asking How did we do?  Once, so moved was I by the joy of shopping amid such a cornucopia of delicious local produce that I thought I’d express my appreciation by touching the smiliest of the four smiley faces on offer.  Big mistake.  I was in for an interminable series of on a scale from one to ten type questions.  I soon decided they were stretching the friendship and I gave it away with a roll of the eyes in the direction of the checkout person, who smiled sympathetically as if to say ‘I know’.  The little screen has since been taken down. 

But everybody else is doing it:  Aurora, Telstra, Microsoft, Australia Post, the ABC, Tas Uni, my mobile service provider, my optometrist and now, after thirty years, my doctor wants me to declare my love and loyalty in writing.  I admit I’ve had the occasional fling with the odd GP whose practice is closer, but is that any reason for them to behave like needy, insecure lovers?

The east coast cabin park where I’m cashing in my freebie travel vouchers sent me a satisfaction survey and I haven’t even been there yet!  But their online booking experience was a whole lot better than Australia Post’s performance with the birthday present I sent my brother in Melbourne.  They were five days late even though I gave them a whole month to deliver it on time, and then they had the cheek to ask breezily how did we do? 

Lucky for them that was a few weeks ago, otherwise they would have heard some pungent views on the desirability of spending taxpayers money on posties and mail-sorters rather than on Cartier watches.