I recently had an experience with a car dealer survey that made me shudder. I’ve been a loyal customer at one of my local dealers for years, for both new car purchases and service. During my last purchasing experience, I had run into a problem which I pointed out to the dealer and they quickly rectified the situation. I was pleased with their openness and responsiveness to my concern.
When I got the franchise-based survey, I answered their questions honestly. I also took the time to explain my comments about the original problem and how pleased I was with their responsiveness. In our world of customer experience and service recovery, I would have read my feedback as positive. The way the questions were phrased, I ended up not giving 5 stars across the entire survey but did rate them 5 stars on recommending and returning. This apparently was a big issue for the dealer. Apparently no one at the corporate headquarters is interested in anything less than 5 stars. I actually got the impression my dealer would be penalized because I gave a couple of 4 stars.
After receiving my feedback I got a call from the dealer apologizing and telling me I’d be hearing from the corporate office. He sounded pretty beaten down. I explained that my comments were actually very complimentary. He indicated that the corporate office doesn’t see it that way. Anything less than 5 is a failure. That’s too bad, because that attitude breeds fear among employees and pressure among customers to give all 5s regardless.
I wish I could say that this scenario is unique to car dealers, but I’ve seen my share of threatening behaviors from healthcare leaders who think they can bully staff into getting good survey scores. The result is a fearful staff who make needy comments to patients, practically begging them to give them high marks. Pathetic. Leaders who take this position are not interested in a great patient experience; they’re interested in the score and don’t care how they get there. Let’s not reduce ourselves to that low behavior. Embrace the opportunity to learn.