I blame the millennials.
I can’t have a commercial interaction with a human, be it by direct contact, telephone, web chat, text or probably bot, that doesn’t end in the request to complete a satisfaction survey.
I bought tea yesterday and was given the opportunity “to share your experience with us.” At least Peet’s offered me a bribe of $1. Most times I’m provided with no incentive, as if I should be flattered that someone values my opinion.
And for a time I was flattered. In our famously disconnected society it was nice to know that someone was listening. Or pretending to listen. But the surveys always ask these innocuous questions that are just as squishy as the questions on an employee self-evaluation. Was I highly satisfied with my experience? I was buying a tin of tea. How satisfying can that be?
Recently I bought a new car – a major transaction. I got three different surveys from the dealer/manufacturer so far asking if I was greeted when I entered the dealership (as if a commission hungry car salesman would ignore raw meat). Was I offered a hot beverage (as if Sheldon Cooper works there). God forbid they ask me a relevant question like did I feel I was getting ripped off.
But I was willing to play along. On a one-to-ten scale (ten being the highest), I rated the car buying experience as an 8. I’m a single woman buying a car, so an 8 is about as good as it is going to get.
A few days later my phone starts blowing up with calls from the car salesman. It was a busy time, and he didn’t leave messages, so I didn’t call him back. Finally, he catches me. With great indignity he asks why did I rate him so low. I said 8 out of 10 isn’t low, and that I don’t believe in grade inflation.
He went on about how I had, basically, ruined his life. Seriously.
Of course he is a millennial, a product of the generation that was rewarded every time they didn’t actually set a building on fire, as my sister once said of the culture at my niece’s school. I thought for a moment maybe I should offer him a sticker.
But then I thought I should go back and revise my survey to a 3 out of ten. Here I am a grown woman buying a luxury car with cash, and I’m made uncomfortable by some overly needy twenty something.
So save me your surveys and your perky customer service reps who keep asking if I am having an amazing day. Of course I’m not having an amazing day, I’ve had to call customer service. And spend your time sorting out your phone tree or improving (or better yet eliminating) your music on hold.