Dumb Ass Stupid Management: Survey This
Have you seen the proliferation of surveys lately? I get surveys about my happiness or unhappiness from pharmacies, auto dealers, electronics outlets, hobby shops, restaurants, reservations sites, credit card companies, hotels, and so forth. Most of the surveys are very poorly done. That’s because the people designing them do so for technology ease, not customer ease. It’s because the intent is to reduce survey responses to numbers to be compared against “standards” or “norms.” It’s because HR people swallow them up and executives never actually see them.
Executives seem to believe that surveys are useful when, in fact, they are amazingly self-selective: Very happy and very unhappy people respond, but not the masses in the middle. It’s like the irritating notice on the phone that “this call may be recorded for quality purposes.” If the call is recorded, it’s for legal purposes, because the quality in those companies never improves.
If executives want to learn about the performance of their businesses, they should shop their own companies, but quietly. I once sat across the aisle from a guy being attended to by two flight attendants at a time on Delta. I found out he was the president of the company traveling “incognito” although everyone knew who he was among the crew. I asked him later, “How was the service?” “Oh, great,” he said, “it’s a wonderful airline!” He thought he sampled the actual service! (And why the hell wasn’t he back in coach instead of in first class?)