Now is not the time
written by Keith Phillips
I contacted one of my utility companies last week to make a few changes to my plan and update some of my contact information. I was having trouble accessing my online account, which was one of the reasons I was calling. I was asked before my experience began if I would be willing to take part in a customer satisfaction survey “after” the call was finished and I confirmed that I would be.
The first customer service representative was able to help me make the changes to my plan, but they were unable to assist me with my technical problems for the website, so they transferred me to an IT person who could help me. Well, that’s what they meant to do, but instead I got…you guessed it…the survey.
The very first question out of the gate was related to whether or not I received the help I needed. This was very discouraging to me, because while as I was being asked about my experience, I was anxious to know if my experience was in fact over. I was told I was being transferred to IT, but now I was receiving a survey about an experience I was in the middle of.
This survey experience had the potential to bias the data, because most people being sampled answer after their experience, but I was being asked to evaluate during and as a result, the questionnaire itself was the cause of my dissatisfaction.
One option would have been to hang up the call, but the possibility of an IT person with my personal information waiting at the end of short survey was too enticing to quit.
I did my best to answer the 5 or 6 questions I was asked. I rated my experience with the customer service represented highly, but my answers also conveyed that I did not get the help I needed and was dissatisfied with the overall experience.
When the questionnaire ended, so did my phone call. When I called back and explained what had happened, the response was that I was not properly transferred and accidently hung up on. That makes perfect sense, but what does not make sense is the questionnaire instrument forcing me to give answers to questions I really could not. The lack of an open ended question also eliminated the possibility of me communicating my frustrations to the researcher. My experience with my utility company highlights the necessity of providing answer options for all scenarios, giving participants opportunities to voice their grievances with the questionnaire, and most importantly, being aware of the proper time to interview someone about their service experience.