Do You Want My Opinion or Not?

Any restaurant owner worth his/her salt will tell you that weighing customer comments can be the difference between packed houses and closed doors. If the hostess hears critique from exiting dinners, it is her duty to pass it along to the owner. I once worked for a great friend who owned a sports retail business and his biggest emphasis to his employees was the amount of focus placed on the customers. He would regularly consider the layout of his store in figuring out how to make shopping easier. He even restructured his pricing if his customers mentioned better deals elsewhere. If you want your business to succeed, you had better pay close attention to your customers. This is why the survey has been an indelible tool in shaping America’s capitalistic landscape.

But do you want my opinion or not?¬†Recently, I’ve observed questionable tactics by the employees of a few major corporations when asking customers to take surveys.

These businesses are Taco Bell and Old Navy.

Last month, after she totaled my order, a Taco Bell employee attempted to persuade me to give her store’s location all perfect scores on a survey which could be found at the website printed on the back of my receipt. Her exact words were, “We need all 5s”. Puzzled and shocked I nodded my head and proceeded to the end of the counter, picked up my food, and sat down to eat. Not long into my meal, the same employee made rounds through the dining room reminding customers to take the survey and to rate the store, “all 5s”.

When she came to my table, she recited her lines and began to quickly move on, assuming I’d agree. But I put down my taco and asked her if she was more interested in my honest opinion or in getting all 5s.

She stood speechless.

After stammering for a few seconds, she reiterated the survey instructions as if I had misunderstood her before. Seeing that she misunderstood me, I thanked her for her attentive service and she walked to the next table to beg for perfect scores.

Just today, while doing my final stint of Christmas shopping, an Old Navy associate tried to pull the same shtick but with a subtle word change. Rather than say that her store ‘needed all 5s’, she nicely but rapidly explained that ‘they strive for all 9s and 10s’ on the survey that ‘I had been included in for shopping with them today’.

Firstly, please don’t treat me as if I have won the prize of taking part in a survey. While I appreciate the avenue through which I may communicate to your corporate office the details of my yule-tide experience, attempting to trick me into feeling that this opportunity is some free bonus is belittling.

Secondly, by rewording the tired message of all high marks, Old Navy must believe me to be out of tune with reality, have a short attention span, or possess a lower Intelligence Quotient than their Performance Fleece sweatshirts as to not fully comprehend I’ve just been asked to forgo my true thoughts/feelings and blindly obey their suggestion. By saying the numbers 9 and 10, Old Navy is banking that I’ll mark them as such…subliminal messaging…on my survey.

If Old Navy wishes to regain esteem in my eyes, they will simply make each customer aware of the survey while making very clear that they want the customer’s real impressions of his/her shopping experience. After all, what good is all 9s and 10s if the scores aren’t earned.

I’m not in such a benevolent mood with Taco Bell because I’ve heard their exact pitch for a few years now. Obviously, Taco Bell thinks it’s customers are too distracted with their hunger or the pretty, colorful window displays to realize they’ve just been told to lie on a survey.

And the lure of winning 5,000 dollars for taking the survey? I’m not buying it. It may be that you’re only entered in the cash drawing if you give ‘all 5s’. If this is the case, then you receive a double helping of shame to you this Christmas, Taco Bell, Inc!

You don’t want me to fill out a survey now, Taco Bell and Old Navy. Trust me!

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