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I’m so over customer experience surveys

I’m sick and tired of being surveyed after every interaction with anyone these days, whether it’s my dentist, an airline or Home Depot.

A few weeks ago, I bought a spray nozzle for $5. I got an email survey from Home Depot asking how my experience was.

It was life-changing: I went into my local store, found my way to the garden center, looked at the selection and chose one. I went to the register and paid, and then I drove home. I was glowing for days. It was the best big box experience of my life.

It's worth noting that Home Depot sees value in sending out these surveys. “We want to give customers every opportunity to share feedback on their experiences with us. Customers can always opt out, but by asking questions directly, even about small purchases, we can gain insights that make our shopping experience more seamless and convenient,” spokesperson George Lane told TechCrunch.

While businesses are hungry for feedback, I’m not the only one who is tired of this endless stream of surveys. Just about everyone seems to be right there with me. There is a constant onslaught of this stuff, and people are definitely feeling the survey fatigue. It seems that by constantly asking about our experience, they are creating a bad one.

They seem to come from everywhere: My dentist queried me after my last visit asking how they did. (I've never had cleaner teeth.) Wingstop, a chicken wing chain, queries customers after every order, but at least the company offers you free fries next time in exchange for your feedback.

List of emails asking for customer feedback from United Airlines

Many companies are hungry for feedback. Image Credits: TechCrunch

The idea behind this approach is well-intentioned. Companies want to understand how they are doing, but when you ask over and over, people get numb and stop paying attention. What makes it worse is that, in some cases, it's not clear if anyone actually cares or looks at the survey, or does anything about it, whether the feedback is positive or negative.

I recently had an experience with an airline (not the one cited in the image above) – those of you who follow me on social media know which one I’m talking about. The no good, horrible, terribly bad experience started with booking —– and the airline sent me a survey at every step of the way. The problem? It didn't seem to actually be paying attention to what I was saying.

I tried to change my seats online to pay extra for more legroom. I got a message on the website saying I needed to call customer service. You want to talk about an easy place to reduce call volume and improve my experience? How about making it simple for customers to make changes on the website. Then when you call, there’s a message stating you could save time by using the website. Um, yeah, I wish I could.

You want to talk about a terrible experience? I paid extra for a changeable ticket. When I actually tried to change it, once again I couldn't do it online. I waited on hold for over an hour listening to the worst music repeat over and over. When I finally got through, I was cut off immediately. The next day, I experienced the exact same thing, only I did manage to get through that time.

While the customer service agent was nice enough, we were told there were no seats on the flight we wanted to get on the following day, even though we were seeing seats online. It was maddening. She needed to make the change and couldn’t get it done.

Oh, and by the way, the airline lost one of my bags on the way home. It’s been over two weeks and I still have no idea where it is.

All the while, the airline is regularly polling me about my experience. I give them the lowest grades possible with copious comments about their lousy service, yet it never seems to reach an actual human. Questions are delivered by bots. Surveys are delivered by bots. They evaporate into the ether as far as I can tell. Maybe the bot is in the backroom reading my feedback.

While this is clearly an extreme example of delivering a terrible experience just about every step of the way, the idea that we’ve been sold that customer surveys provide direct communication between customer and company is just a fallacy. When you constantly get pinged for your thoughts and nobody seems to be listening, what exactly is the point?

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