My Inbox displays the question as the heading of an email hungrily awaiting a reply.
Please take a moment to complete the attached survey, it says. It will take only 15 minutes, or 5 minutes, or even 1 minute, it promises.
The requests arrive more and more frequently from more and more sources.
Make a phone call to a utility company? How are we doing follows.
Or a purchase from an online store.
Or a call to a government agency.
Or a visit to my local drug store.
Or getting a haircut.
I even received one from my doctor’s office after my last regularly scheduled visit.
When I stupidly purchased a new car, I’d take it to the dealer for servicing. The customer representative handling all communication between me and the rest of the dealership informs me as I’m leaving that I’ll be emailed a survey about how well he did. He further requests that I rate him 10, the best, in all categories. So not only am I expected to take time for the survey, but also to respond in a predetermined manner. I don’t blame him. I’m sure low ratings would hurt his prospects.
I used to answer these requests, but I have vowed no more.
There are many reasons.
First and foremost, it’s an imposition to expect me to devote valuable time, time I could spend writing blogs for example, to give them information they may or may not pay any attention to.
Second, I find the questions often are so general as to be useless. Like “Did your problem get resolved? With the choices “Yes” or “No” while the correct answer is, “I don’t know yet. Time will tell.” It’s true most have a space for comments of any kind but that requires real work to adequately explain any problem.
I guess a reasonable question is, “What’s so bad with putting out a survey?” And I’m forced to admit I respect the desire to improve, although I’m not convinced a survey gets at any real problems unless there’s a huge percentage indicating a problem area.
That came to mind with the student evaluations I was forced to administer. In spite of the pressure, I think they were valuable. Sometimes. I’ve had students indicate I missed several classes. I never missed a class and such comments, appearing rarely, were brushed aside. So what’s the advantage of the evaluation if I was going to ignore the results? Well, I didn’t always. If a large percentage of the students indicated the same problem, I’d take it seriously and reevaluate my actions.
Another useful survey is ratings of products on Amazon, although they’re not always easy to evaluate. No matter how good an item is, there will be those who berate it, like a student bemoaning a missed class. However, I’ve learned that if a product is rated 4 or 5 by at least 80% of the respondents, it’s probably okay.
I guess what I’m saying is the idea of surveys is not inherently bad. What’s getting to me is the ever increasing number of them. And, of course, any like the one from the dealership which dictates how I should respond.
So, how about I send each of you a survey asking you to rate my blogs?
Don’t worry. I wouldn’t have the courage.