Last month I wrote about the annoying experience of having a Honda dealership try to influence my rating on their customer satisfaction survey.

My annoyance prompted me to write that article. Boy did I spark the passion of others,  including the dealership marketers themselves. 

A considerate Varsity Marketing Newsletter reader forwarded my newsletter to people she should thought would be interested, only to find out that they worked at the dealership I wrote about.

They were not happy.  They claimed I didn’t understand the issue and that they couldn’t participate in incentive programs without top ratings.

Meanwhile, on LinkedIn discussion groups, on my blog and in person, readers shared similar experiences.

Honda is far from the only car company inflicting this unpleasantness on its customers.   I heard stories about Volvo, Audi, Jaguar, and VW as well.  Others told me about eBay sellers, Amazon sellers, and even the U.S. Post Office pressuring them to give top ratings and claiming their jobs were on the line.

Here is the real problem:  large companies and organizations are using customer satisfaction surveys as a performance evaluation tool.  This use takes the emphasis away from understanding the customer and puts a premium on getting top ratings.  It puts the incentive in the wrong place.

And customers are angry.

A few people are angry enough to refuse to answer the surveys.  They don’t want to cave to pressure and they don’t want to endanger any one’s job.

I love this approach and have adopted it myself.  Maybe if enough customers refuse to answer these surveys, the companies will get the message and find a better way to assess performance.

In the meantime, the companies and their agents (car dealerships, sellers, and employees) are driving customers away with the very tool they should be using to keep them.

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