I reckon surveys and Call centres are implicitly counter-productive



A lot of Council websites are now asking visitors to complete a survey to help them improve their service. I can’t help but think that this is a spurious p.r. attempt and a pretense of showing concern.
Why? Because they limit possible responses.
It seems that surveys are designed to be processed by computers to produce statistics and graphs, which humans will then attempt to interpret. In order to do this they reject information in favour of data. This defeats the purpose of the exercise, as anyone who has attempted to organise a survey is only too well aware.
Having attempted the process for my own private purposes and for an employer, I have seen this happen. An employee has to produce results to a timetable and is therefore forced to throw away important information in order to “get results”. The data is flawed in that it does not reflect the intended responses of those questioned, only the permitted responses.

[It’s the same basic flaw that we see in these damnable menu driven call centres, where you ended up trying options 1,2,3,4,and 5 without achieving the required outcome. we also see it in on-line Help pages, which send you around in circles until you realise that an hour has passed and you surrender to the “Ring our premium rated help-line and waste another hour”.]

The flawed date is then converted to flawed information, which leads to flawed decisions, which are then implemented, by personel, who have been robotised into the numerous insane decisions that permeate our newspapers. This seems to be especially prevalent in Council based services, where jobsworths have been given legal powers to enforce these flawed decisions.

When the survey is designed for oneself, one quickly realises how limited it is and how many more variations in responses there are to the ones anticipated.

The solution is to create more open ended questionnaires: E.g. instead of a hierarchy of questions, which are intended to rely on those previous, ask open independent questions, such as “what do you think of the layout of this webpage?”, “Please tell us what you were looking for on this page and if you have found it”, “what question should we ask other visitors?”
If these questions are then looked at and, consequently amended, by a human, then eventually the human will gain enough information to process and form an opinion of what people actually think.
A human can gauge from the responses, which respondents are being flip, which are getting genuinely angry, which have cause to be angry etc.
The human might not be able to quote percentages or provide graphs but a human will provide an opinion which can be used to make an intelligent decision, which is what the function of the survey was meant to do.
Of course Public bodies, such as Councils aren’t really incentivised to get the truth, because they don’t have customers, they have cash cows but private companies, who rely on customer good will, would find that their costs for P.R. and Market Research would be cut considerably, if they took this approach.
Even the dimmest CEO must be able to see how much better it would be for their business, if the replaced call centres and menu driven connections with a human, capable of directing calls to the appropriate department, or a suitable Officer-in-charge, instead of a Fobber-offer aka P.R.


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