The other week I received a phone call from a mobile service provider asking me to take part in a survey to rate a conversation I’d had with their call centre a few days earlier. I agreed and the lady began by asking me whether the person I spoke to, let’s call him X but she used his name which I had taken down during the phone call, had helped me with my enquiry. He had, and I said so.
The lady asked me several rating questions on a scale of 0-10 about how helpful X had been before asking “How likely are you to recommend [mobile carrier] based on your conversation with X?”. Suddenly I felt uncomfortable.
The reason for my phone call with X had been to cancel my data plan because I was in the process of switching carriers. I didn’t tell X the reason behind cancelling the data plan and I didn’t expect him to realise what I was up to because it was a weekend and the switchover wouldn’t occur until the next business day. X didn’t ask and, to my relief, he didn’t try to sell me anything, he just processed the change. X was great!
The survey question stumped me because it was asking me to rate a person on something that he had little influence over. My happiness (or lack of) to recommend the mobile provider has nothing directly to do with X. I would not recommend the mobile provider for a number of reasons that have accumulated over the past 8 or so years as a customer, and nothing X could have said or done would have changed my mind on how likely I would be to recommend them.
I tried to explain to the lady that I had switched from their service and that I could not rate X on that question because it had nothing to do with him. She seemed confused.
If someone deals with a service for the first time, then perhaps this kind of question might be useful. Single touch-points or interactions however, in my case at least, rarely swing opinion in any great way (the first chat I tried to have with someone at my new mobile provider was an utter fail and I simply walked to another of their stores to talk to a more helpful person to setup my new account).
A sense of trust, loyalty and happiness with a service often accumulates over time. Narrowing it down to a specific individual, in this case X, felt like I was being given the opportunity to blame him for the failures of a major company. It felt wrong. If she’d kept X out of the equation and just asked for my likelihood to recommend them in general, I could have answered.
Survey questions and responses can easily be misleading. I hope the lady jotting down my answers skipped ticking a random box on her form, and that X has had no repercussions for being the last recorded person to speak to a customer who switched.