Survey Says…

Because I worked for three lousy months at a call center I know what it’s like for customer service people. I know how it feels to be on the other end of the phone when some angry, frustrated person calls. Maybe I’d be nice to customer service people anyway but experience makes me especially nice to them because while I have no idea what their day so far has been like I assume it hasn’t been good. So I had to call a customer service person the other day and it was even more of a relief that she was friendly and understanding, apologizing for the problem even though it wasn’t her fault. She also took down all my contact information in case we got cut off. That also turned out to be helpful because the issue was too complicated to resolve over a phone call so she promised to email me a follow-up when she had more information. During this conversation I could hear a baby babbling in the background and I thought it was great she got to work from home, which can be a real stress relief, and I was grateful that the dog three feet away from my desk didn’t jump up and bark like he usually does whenever I have to make a phone call. Instead he stayed curled up, sound asleep and farting, which I was really glad the customer service person didn’t hear.

Pictured: The dog. Not pictured: The farting.

She did send me the follow-up message, the whole issue was resolved, and then I got a survey that asked, “How did our customer service person do?” I don’t know if these surveys really make any difference or if the results even get back to the person. When I worked in customer service there were a few repeat customers—it was a small company—who told me they always appreciated my professionalism and courtesy, and all I ever got was a lousy coffee mug with the corporate logo. And even Kevin, who sat in the corner station with his phone turned off playing solitaire got one of those. But just in case I always fill out the surveys, especially when the person I talked to did a really good job. That’s what I said, too: “Great, five stars, and not too shabby!” Or something like that.

That’s when things took a strange turn. I got a follow-up to the survey that said, “We’re always happy to hear that our customer service people do a good job. How would you like to reward the person who helped you? (a) Treat them to a nice dinner (b) Give them a night out at the movies (c) Send them on vacation”.

At first this seemed like a great idea—a concrete way to reward someone for a job well done. But now I was faced with a choice. I hadn’t gotten to know the person I spoke to well enough to know what she might like. A nice dinner, maybe, but does she like to go out? Would she have to get a babysitter? If she ordered delivery would the cost mean she’d be stuck with a burger and fries? A night out at the movies came with similar concerns. Even if she’d rather watch a movie at home it didn’t seem like much of a thank-you. Could she get that and dinner delivered? I finally opted for the vacation, but I still had concerns. Did she have enough time off to take this vacation, whatever it might be? Would she be able to take the baby with her? Was it even her baby?

I spent more time sweating over this than the problem I called about in the first place. I wish they’d sent me a survey asking what I thought of their survey so I could say, “It sucks. Whose idea was this? It was Kevin, wasn’t it?”

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  1. mydangblog

    Wow, that’s a new one! I hope she gets to go somewhere nice! A while back, I accidentally deleted my publishing company website (long story) and the customer service rep who helped me while I was sobbing was amazing. I’d send her to Hawaii if I could!
    mydangblog recently posted…It’s A MysteryMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      My heart sank just reading that. I’m so glad someone was able to help you. And there are so many stories of bad customer service I wanted to highlight a good one, even if it went kind of sideways.


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