Thursday, November 19, 2015

I get that you want feedback, but please just leave me alone

Customer engagement is all the rage these days, and it doesn’t matter what you’re a customer of, it’s pretty much a guarantee that they’ll want to engage. A big part of customer engagement is, apparently, eliciting feedback.

Thus, last summer, after I was a customer, that is to say, patient, of Dr. I, who was the surgeon for my eyelift (non-cosmetic, I hasten to point out; I have hereditary ptosis, or drooping eyelids – thanks, Nanny! – which was causing me all sorts of problems), I received 3 or 4 requests for me to complete a survey on my “experience.” If I thought that anything I had to say could help improve things for other patients, I would have filled in the survey. But I didn’t have anything to say, and didn’t feel compelled to fill out a five-point-scale rating just so that Dr. I’s office could use the ratings to sell someone on what is, in many cases, elective/vanity surgery. (The good news if it’s not elective/vanity surgery: insurance pays for it.)

Anyway, the one thing that stood out on surgery day was that two of the nurses working in the eye surgery assembly line center were named Maureen. Not something I needed to report back on a survey. Keep up the good work! Never enough Maureens! Just say Moe!

For some reason, I find physician surveys particularly annoying. If they were just open-ended – is there anything we could do to make things better? – I’d be just fine with them. But that wouldn’t supply the coveted (and often meaningless) metrics that everyone craves these days.

I did fill in one MD survey – for my PCP, someone I particularly like. But mostly I’ll be taking a pass on these, once they start to come along with regularity as my journey to geezerhood progresses.

Medical practices are not alone when it comes to reaching out to their customers for feedback.

Open Table wants to know how I liked Toscano’s. Just great! Which is why it’s been one of my go-to neighborhood spots for years, thank you very much.

British Airways wants me to help shape the future. Here’s my advice to BA: if you want me to fly to the UK, do something about the fact that, even when you use frequent flyer miles, it still costs $800 to land.

WGBH wants to know what I think of their programming. Here you go: as long as you keep running old folkie specials and ask for money, I’ll watch your old folkie specials and send you money. I’ll also keep sending money to your radio station because I listen to the Celtic Sojourn.

Yale Appliance wants me to review my recent purchases. Well, they’re mostly installed, but I haven’t actually used any of them yet. But I can tell you that the fridge smells really awful and the box of baking soda I put in it doesn’t seem to be dissipating the plastic-chemical odor. Maybe once it’s plugged in and I actually use it, the odor will go away. I hope so. A fridge that costs this much should absolutely NOT smell. As for the rest, the only question I have is why is there a metal rack in the Bosch microwave. (For some reason, this feature only serves to remind me of the urban legend of the old lady who accidentally microwaved her toy poodle.)

Armstrong Flooring. MIT’s Credit Union. Zappo’s. The place I bought the cool dress. And these aren’t even all of the outfits that have tried to engage me in the last week or so.

Everyone – or at least everyone I don’t actually know - wants to know what I think. (Zappo’s appeal: Help Others! by writing a review…Ah, the old Help Others! gimmick.)

I did review the Task Rabbit guy who moved the leather couch over to my brother’s. And I do press the Great button for my Uber drivers. But those are people that, however fleeting, I actually had an engagement with. (Okay, I also had an up close and personal engagement with Dr. I. I guess I just hate MD surveys.)

And sometimes I answer phone surveys, especially the political ones (especially, I must admit, if they’re from the Party I Do Not Belong To; I do answer honestly, and I’m sure they must be scratching their heads over how I got on their call list).

Hey, I’m a marketing person, so I understand the value of getting feedback, and the value of engaging your customers.

But when you’re asking for feedback, you’re asking for my time and I get nothing in return. Let me tell you, I’m a lot more apt to answer your survey if I get put in a drawing for the iTunes card or whatever. Even if my odds of winning are infinitesimally small, at least you’re acknowledging that my time is worth something. (Some companies do use this approach. Costs little, and I suspect the yield is pretty substantial. But perhaps marketers don’t want to sully their surveying by bribing their respondents.)

Mostly, I just don’t want to be engaged, thank you. Mostly, I just want you to leave me the hell alone.

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