Saturday, June 22, 2013

This is what a dry twig sounds like.

I got a marketing call the other day, and it was the third attempt by someone to find out what stores I had recently shopped at and what I liked about them. They got about halfway through the first sentence of their script, and I told them -

Now listen here. If you want to measure customer engagement, I understand that and it would be really great if the store manager came up to me once in a while and asked me about my shopping experience, but instead some consultant has sold them on the idea that they need to sell third party surveys and all it's doing is trying to create a revenue stream for the consultant out of thin air instead of finding out if you have engaged customers. Why should I talk to you? I don't have a relationship with you. I'm not inclined to tell you anything. You know what, this is something that I've been mad about for a long time and you really shouldn't bear the brunt of that so I'm going to hang up the phone now.


I admit, I kinda snapped like a dry twig there.

What makes me even more mad about third-party surveys and information gathering is that the stores have made the information completely useless most of the time. Sprint is the worst offender that I can think of in that regard, but there are other stores that do the same thing - the employee has something at stake if the survey results are not perfect, which leads to store associates and phone support people having to end the call with "Please give me a perfect score when they call you for a survey or else they'll torture me in a pit full of rabid slugs and light jazz".

Do you want to find out of you have engaged customers? The best way is to find out what they want, yourself, so that you are in a position to deliver a good customer experience if that's actually possible. Everybody has a few customers that will complain no matter what you do, and a few customers that have unyielding brand loyalty that is hard to shake, and those represent the statistical far ends of your customer spectrum. For everyone else in the middle, I'm not convinced that a third-party survey that's likely to polarize the data is the best way. The perceived problem with asking customers yourself is that they're likely to say everything is fine, until it isn't, and that's another way that the data is skewed. Consider the two scenarios - taking the time to know your customers yourself and enhancing your knowledge about the people you provide goods and/or services for, or paying a bunch of people that don't really know your customer at all to sit on the phone and annoy them? Another advantage you have gathering information yourself is that you know more about each customer's history than the dude in a cube farm reading off a script does, and it will be easier for you to combine what the customer says and what the customer does into a clearer picture of who they are as a customer.

Now after that, if you still really want survey data, just get the data and don't find a way to skew it before you look at it. Don't put yourself in a situation where employees have to bias the data by telling the customers how to answer it - how the survey is answered depends on how your customer interprets the questions, and since the goal is to learn things about your customers, let the answers tell the story on their own. Results are going to be analog, or digitally sampled analog, but not digital.

At this point I'd like to give a big shoutout to my local GameStop, for easing up on the scripted prompts when they talk to me and actually talking to me to find out what I like.