Customer Surveys and Social Media

July 21, 2009
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In which Jill maintains that “Who Were You in a Past Life?” isn’t the only survey on Facebook. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Facebook Quiz

I just bought a car. And I just saw my doctor. In the spirit of their respective customer-focus initiatives—of course I don’t know whether either has a customer-focus strategy, but it’s a good bet—both the automobile company and the HMO surveyed me about my experience.

The automobile company called me a week after I bought my car. After leaving several voicemail messages, an agent finally reached me and asked me a series of shockingly banal and uncreative questions. “Was the showroom clean and well appointed?” Look, I was there to buy a car, not to eat off the floor. “Was your salesman knowledgeable about the car?” Well, he couldn’t get the navigation to work but that’s only because it had never been installed. “Would you buy a car from this dealer again?” I don’t ever want to buy a car again, from this dealer or any other, so that one’s a loaded question.

The truth is: I didn’t particularly enjoy my car-buying experience—who does?—but I love my car. Did the automaker inquire about their new customer’s initial impressions with the product? No. Did they even

In which Jill maintains that “Who Were You in a Past Life?” isn’t the only survey on Facebook. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Facebook Quiz

I just bought a car. And I just saw my doctor. In the spirit of their respective customer-focus initiatives—of course I don’t know whether either has a customer-focus strategy, but it’s a good bet—both the automobile company and the HMO surveyed me about my experience.

The automobile company called me a week after I bought my car. After leaving several voicemail messages, an agent finally reached me and asked me a series of shockingly banal and uncreative questions. “Was the showroom clean and well appointed?” Look, I was there to buy a car, not to eat off the floor. “Was your salesman knowledgeable about the car?” Well, he couldn’t get the navigation to work but that’s only because it had never been installed. “Would you buy a car from this dealer again?” I don’t ever want to buy a car again, from this dealer or any other, so that one’s a loaded question.

The truth is: I didn’t particularly enjoy my car-buying experience—who does?—but I love my car. Did the automaker inquire about their new customer’s initial impressions with the product? No. Did they even ask what I thought of their brand before and after my purchase? Nope. Did they ask if I’d tell my friends about the car? Well, if you read this blog you’re my friend. Do you know what kind of car I bought? You get my point.

The HMO’s survey was more structured, and their questions were more relevant. Do you feel like your doctor spent enough time with you? Do you feel she really listened to you? Did she offer useful information? Were the nurses courteous? Did they pronounce your name right? Were all your questions answered by the time you left? These factors really do contribute to the patient’s care experience, and I appreciate how deliberate and well thought-out they were. Trouble is, the form was two pages long and I had to return it via snail mail.

The surveys were completely different in almost every way, save for one. There was no attempt to cultivate an on-line relationship. I’ve had automobile and healthcare clients, and both industries are extremely focused on-line customer interactions. Many have invested in building on-line communities, encouraging their customers to contribute to an ongoing dialog and gathering important data in the process.

So what gives? Why not ask me for my e-mail address, and have me fill in an on-line form so I could share the fact that I spent more time waiting around for my sales guy than I did talking to him? (Amazingly, this was not true of my physician.)

Better yet, what if one of the questions was:

Would you share your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts in the space below? This way we can send you periodic updates and service reminders. Plus, we’d be happy to give you access to our site, which compares your responses to people who bought cars at the same dealership [saw the same doctor].

Sure, you could do this via e-mail (neither survey requested an e-mail address), but social media communications are generally more engaging, more interactive. I would really like to know whether I was hyper-critical of my car dealership, or whether other car buyers, like me, are repressing the memory of the purchase process and are now enjoying their new cars as much as I am. I’d be interested in understanding whether my doctor spends the same amount of time with all her patients, or whether I truly was special. In the process, these companies could not only learn more about themselves, but learn more about me. By opting in, I could receive tweets like:

@jilldyche We’ve received your completed survey! Here’s a link to how your answers stack up with some of Dr. X’s other patients. Tweet us @hmo if you have any follow-up questions.  Meantime, don’t forget your 5000 IUs of Vitamin D!

Customer feedback via social media not only personalizes the message, it reflects my preferred way of communicating. After all, differentiating customer treatment based on the customer’s history and preferences is the very definition of CRM. So what’s taking so long?

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