Sometimes, You Just Don't Need Customer Data

  |  October 5, 2004   |  Comments

Get the basics right before you conduct the customer survey.

Dear Big Cellular Telco Marketing Department,

My time is worth more than $4.50 per hour.

Are you guys completely clueless? Why on earth are you spending tens of thousands of dollars on a customer retention/satisfaction survey when you should already know what some of your main problems are?

How do I know you're conducting a customer retention/satisfaction-type survey? Because I recently canceled my service, and you just happened to call me to ask some questions pertaining directly to my canceling your service.

There are times when you don't need customer data. I'll tell you two areas you, Big Cellular Telco, need to improve. I won't even charge you for this consultation -- and you don't need a survey to find these problems. As a bonus, I'll also tell you how to improve your actual survey.

First Area of Improvement: Your phones don't work as well as others in New York City. I was on a Coney Island-bound subway train recently. We came out of a tunnel and since many people started using their mobile phones, I got out mine. It didn't work. I asked the people using their phones what service provider they used. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Cingular were all mentioned. Big Cellular Telco? Didn't work.

But you should already know this. You shouldn't need a survey to learn it.

Second Area of Improvement: Your foreign-based call center stinks. Sure, the guy said English words perfectly, but he didn't seem to understand what I was saying and couldn't answer any simple questions without putting me on hold. I spent hours on your customer service lines.

Finally, I gave up and asked the representative to cancel my account. He told me he did. Guess what. I continue to receive both service and bills, because the account wasn't canceled.

You have serious call center problems.

Again, you shouldn't need a survey to know this. The easiest way to discover this problem would be to call your own call center and try to accomplish a few things. You'd quickly find out how inept the service can be.

Finally, let's talk about that survey. I obviously condone the use of surveys to gather information. But do you really expect me to sit on the phone with your survey guy for over 20 minutes after the hours I spent on hold and explaining the billing problems to someone, being transferred, explaining the problem again, being transferred again... (remember, one major problem was your call center)?

OK, I admit it. I lied when the survey guy asked the upfront qualifying question: Do I have anything to do with market research? After that, I answered your questions truthfully, until I grew bored and realized I was being imposed upon, again, by Big Cellular Telco.

The survey guy went on and on. Finally, I said, "Two more questions and we're done."

He said, "OK," and launched into a 15-part question. I'd had much more than enough, so I told him we were done. I was reminded I'd receive a free 30-minute phone card for completing the survey.

If I do the math correctly, assuming minutes are worth $0.05 apiece, this means you're going to give me $1.50 for completing the 20-minute survey. This equals $4.50 per hour.

No thank you, Big Cellular Telco.

There are times when you don't need a survey to tell you where improvements are needed. I know your coverage in Manhattan is awful, and I know your call center is, too. And it isn't my job to know those things.

It's yours.

Oops, looks like we're out of space, so I can't tell you how to improve your survey. That's too bad, because it's one thing I'm pretty good at. It's actually one of the things I do as part of my job. Give me a call. We can discuss it.

But I may put you on hold.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Teasley Brian Teasley is the leader of Teasley, a consultancy that helpsadvertisers, marketers and advertising agencies use data and analysis toimprove their marketing campaigns. Brian has over 14 years experience inengineering and marketing, and has worked for numerous Fortune 100companies. Brian also teaches a marketing course at New York University. Heholds a M.S. degree in Applied Statistics from Iowa State University and aBA in Mathematics and a BA in Mathematics and Statistics from St. OlafCollege.

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