Hats off to American Express!

September 12, 2010

Recently, I had to place a call to American Express’ customer service. First, my problem was solved right away. Second, almost immediately thereafter, I received a customer survey. Guess what the first survey question was? “Do you remember this call?” (paraphrased)

I almost fell out of my chair. Someone had finally THOUGHT about a customer survey and what it was trying to accomplish!

Customer satisfaction surveys are conducted, presumably, to get feedback about the customer’s “experience.” These surveys could be powerful tools for gaining and retaining customers and for reducing costs, but too often they are not. I call them the “Silly Surveys.” (Actually, some additional “S words” spring to mind…)

How many surveys have you received and wondered, “Which call and what person is this survey asking about?” If you are like me, too often, either I’ve had to talk with more than one support person, or the survey arrives long enough after the incident that I am not sure which incident, contact, or person the survey is asking about.

In addition, too many surveys fail to ask a critical question: Should this call have been necessary in the first place? Instead, it asks: Was the support person knowledgeable, clear, polite? Was the problem solved? The answer is often, “Yes, to all of the above,” but too often, the underlying problem is that the company has a poorly constructed website that makes it difficult to accomplish simple tasks–tasks that are easy to accomplish at other sites. I had to waste my time placing a call that should have been unnecessary.

In the case of the above example, the support person will get kudos (or, at least, won’t get into trouble), but I, the customer, having made too many similar calls to this company, am likely to be considering changing vendors, and the company is missing an opportunity to reduce its tech support costs. If customers could easily accomplish simple tasks at the website, fewer tech support people would be needed.

Renee’s Rule™: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.