Author Topic: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous? (update p.#10)  (Read 1898 times)

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snappylt

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Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous? (update p.#10)
« on: February 26, 2013, 04:03:54 PM »
I take turns several times a month driving a beloved family member (who does not have a driver's license) to a city in another county so he can attend special meetings.  Usually this means waiting around for two or three hours before the return trip.

Often, I will take a book with me to a particular "ethnic fast food" restaurant not far from my relative's meeting place.  I'll order my meal and drink at the counter, pick up my food, and then sit at a table for maybe 1 hours reading my book and enjoying my food slowly.  (There are no waiters here, and there are always plenty of empty tables on the nights of the week that I'm there.)

Some of the staff behind the counter recognize me now.  They are always polite.  I really appreciate being able to eat there and being able to take extra time reading my book while I wait for my relative's meetings to end.  (It surely beats sitting in my car in the parking lot!)

This restaurant offers one dollar off a future meal if one calls a phone number on the receipt and shares opinions about the dining experience.  My budget is tight these days, and I can appreciate that extra dollar off.

The employees there have always been kind to me and I feel welcome there, so I always rate the employees highly in that regard.  But sometimes the dining experience is less than perfect.  (Sometimes one particular item that is supposed to be crispy is served stale, for example.  Sometimes the condiment station is messy and should be cleaned and refilled more promptly.  That sort of thing.)  None of these problems are serious enough that I want to spend my energy complaining at the time... but I have been honest when I have answered the questions on the telephone survey.  I feel a little uncomfortable, though, sometimes, when I answer the survey questions honestly, as I don't want to get the friendly employees in trouble with their corporate headquarters.

I'm just curious to hear others' experiences with these surveys.  Are you honest?  Do you complain on the surveys about things that you don't mention to the staff while you are there?

I guess I am asking if it is rude to not bring a problem to the manager's attention at the time, but to then go ahead and mention the problem on the survey.  I'm thinking it is not rude, as long as one is truthful, but what do others think?
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 12:53:53 AM by snappylt »

Sophie Jenkins

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 04:12:38 PM »
Is it a big chain?

If it's a bigger chain, I would always, always address issues at store level before taking it to corporate, even in a survey. A manager can fix something and work on policy/training, but if a complaint comes down from corporate, the penalties are stiffer, and will often result in policy changes that make it harder for employees to do a good job.

In a smaller business, the survey might be more like talking to the owner who's in the store three times a week, and I'd consider that to be equivalent to talking to a manager on the day of.

Calistoga

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 04:16:42 PM »
I've worked in food service for years. Trust me, be honest. What will probably happen is that the owner/manager will hear about the issue you complained about and will make sure the staff knows to pay more attention.

For example- we were getting consistent complaints at my current place about the time it took for customers to get their call in orders, because the people upfront hadn't been giving us accurate arrival times. Our manager talked to everyone, and now we get those orders out timely.

If everyone is generous while looking over flaws, then customers who don't eat there often are going to see lots of little problems and want to not come back. We would so much rather have you just tell us if something isn't right up front so we can fix it.

That being said, don't be brutal. If you come there 5 times a week, and the condiments are messy once, that's probably not a consistent issue.

that_one_girl

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 07:07:48 PM »
As someone who has worked fast food before, it's always best to bring the problem to the manager on site.  I am sure that since they know you as one of their regulars, they  would trust your opinion that something is stale.   If you mention it on the survey, then the higher ups will be breathing down their throats, whereas if you politely and calmly take the manager that day aside, he can solve the problem right there (get you a new one) and get rid of the rest of the stale batch and learn which employees he needs to re-educate on holding times for particular foods.  It can even help the workers out since they can deal with a nice customer (you) rather than another customer who might be angry and volatile and yell at them over the stale food.

DottyG

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 07:41:19 PM »
I'm honest.  In as nice a way as I can be.  But if they're asking for my opinion, I'm thinking they want me to actually tell them how things really are.  It's a waste of their time/money and my time to just pat them on the back no matter what.

I know that there are some companies that penalize stores for not getting all "excellent" marks.  But I can't help that.  I give as many of those as I can.  But if it really rates a "Good" instead, I'm hoping they want to know that.  My irritation is when they ask for a numerical rating but then don't let you explain why you gave it that.  If I'm giving less than Excellent, I feel like they need to know why, so they can fix it.  Likewise, if I give an Excellent and want to note someone in particular that made it that rating, there should be a way to do that (obviously telling the manager in person is an option, but it should also be a part of the survey).

But yes.  I think it's important to be honest on those things.


lady_disdain

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 08:53:25 PM »
I think that if you are being paid for you opinion (the $1 discount), then you have a duty to be truthful. You can be as nice as possible about it and certainly praise the employees and the store as much as you can, but you have to be honest about the problems as well.

MrsCrazyPete

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 09:50:33 PM »
Having worked in an establishment with the surveys, I ALWAYS call the number when given the chance. Unless I truly have something to complain about, I give the store perfect scores on all the questions. It is so so rare to actually have a customer answer everything perfectly, and I know how much it can mean to the employees. In my previos experience, good scores meant higher raises and fun outings for our staff.
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RoseRose

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2013, 11:12:37 PM »
I think it depends on if the surveys are pegged to a specific individual.  I work in tech support, and surveys can get mailed out (every caller has a chance of receiving a survey if they have provided an email address).  These surveys are tied to cases we create.  I am partially paid based on my performance.  If I get a negative survey, it impacts my pay.  Sometimes I've deserved those negative surveys, other times, the customer gives me a negative survey because I can't magically make a replacement part appear in their hands (they have a chance to leave comments, and the comments have been on the lines of I loved the agent, but the policies for repairs/replacements are awful, so it's not just me making an interesting assumption.  There are other surveys I have received where the response seems unfair, but not as clear cut as that).

So, if it's linkable to a particular person, I would err on the side of generosity.  If it isn't linkable to a particular person, I'd be far more willing to be honest.  Also, if you do say something negative, explain as thoroughly as possible.  I absolutely hate getting a negative survey with no comments, because then I don't know why my service wasn't adequate, and it's harder to figure out where I need to improve.



Erich L-ster

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2013, 11:40:49 PM »
With regard to the state of the condiment station- if they're busy and it looks like everybody's working at something I wouldn't complain about it. If they have a few people standing around doing nothing and it's not busy, then the state of the mess might be reasonable to complain about.

This is if the station is a little messy, not atrocious. If it's really bad it should be taken care of asap.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2013, 12:11:30 AM »
Since you intend to be a regular - and identifiable - customer of this place for a while, I suggest you only return the surveys when you can be completely positive.  Some places do penalize employees for anything less than a perfect score and you don't know whether that applies here - and if giving them honest less-than-perfect scores will bring down penalties from corporate, you don't want the local employees to associate those issues with you.

snappylt

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2013, 12:53:04 AM »
Since you intend to be a regular - and identifiable - customer of this place for a while, I suggest you only return the surveys when you can be completely positive.  Some places do penalize employees for anything less than a perfect score and you don't know whether that applies here - and if giving them honest less-than-perfect scores will bring down penalties from corporate, you don't want the local employees to associate those issues with you.

OP here.  (I added the bolding above.)

Hmmm... I hadn't thought about it that way, exactly.  Might they do something unpleasant to my order before it is served if they think I've made a non-perfect review?

Actually, they did get a new local night manager a few months ago, and I've noticed that things have improved since then.  (The condiment bar seems to be cleaned up more frequently and I don't think I've been served anything stale since the new manager arrived.)

The new manager was working at the order station one night recently and accepted my coupon for the dollar off, so he knows that I replied to at least one survey.  He asked me (pleasantly) if things had been OK on my last visit, and I told him truthfully that they had been and that I'd given a glowing review (as I did that time).

Maybe it would be best if I see a problem in the future if I mention it to him to give him a chance to correct it first.

Thank you, everyone, for your ideas!


Twik

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous? (update p.#10)
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 08:42:00 AM »
I would like to believe that they wouldn't sabotage your food. However, even the most benevolent employees will likely go, "Oh, not HER again," if they associate your visits with dressing downs afterwards for poor scores. At best, your service may be less enthusiastic.
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siamesecat2965

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Re: Customer Surveys - be truthful or generous? (update p.#10)
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2013, 03:51:48 PM »
I would like to believe that they wouldn't sabotage your food. However, even the most benevolent employees will likely go, "Oh, not HER again," if they associate your visits with dressing downs afterwards for poor scores. At best, your service may be less enthusiastic.

I agree. And quite honestly, sometimes things happen so that it can't be perfect. I work in retail and it we are shorthanded, or busier than normal in the evening, we don't always get the store put back together a quickly as management might like. Or it may be that they just finished cleaning the condiment section, got a rush, and its messy again, but haven't had the chance to clean it up again. I know we can have an entire area of my store cleaned, clothing folded, hangers spaced, and in the span of 2 minutes, one or two customers can mess it up again.

we also have a number of customers, who, when we see them, want to hide since all they do is complain. Not about us per say, but the store, the merchandise, company policies, etc.