GM: You’re Doing Surveys Wrong

GM: You’re Doing Surveys Wrong

After driving my car a decade, I made the decision to go big or go home. Influenced by my Grandfather’s love of his Cadillac and remembering the weekend rides where he took us out… I bought my first Cadillac earlier in the year. The dealership I purchased from is amazing… down to Earth folks from the receptionist, to the salesperson, to the service people. Every time I make an appointment for an oil change (off my iPhone App… how cool is that?!), I have a great experience.

And then it happens.



I’m asked, chided, almost begged to fill out any surveys from General Motors with Completely Satisfied marks. It’s made clear to me that I can’t enter a single grade without anything but Completely Satisfied. It’s made clear to me that there are terrible repercussions for the staff if that doesn’t happen.

It makes me think that GM has taken what used to be a great tool to gauge their client feedback and tracking their satisfaction and turned it into a weapon that their dealers and employees are petrified of. That the dealership goes through the trouble of printing and stapling this cover letter to every service statement, and spending a few times explaining it, is really unfortunate. I’m not even mentioning the dealership in this blog post since I don’t want them to get in trouble for it.

Any company that captures customer intelligence understands that there’s both a margin of error with customer feedback and human error is imminent when it comes to customer service. In other words, no matter how well your team performs, some people are just having a bad day or are jerks and they won’t give you a perfect score. At other times, your service team may make a mistake… but it’s how they recover from it that matters, not whether or not they did a perfect job. In other words, throw out the top and bottom 5% and keep the rest for a true measurement of how you’re doing. Consumers don’t believe any company provides a perfect 5-star experience, so stop demanding it.

I’m confident that the motivation for gathering of this customer satisfaction data is for all the good reasons. But the execution appears to be the issue. Companies shouldn’t be afraid of making a mistake once in a while, or being on the bad end of the wrath of a cranky consumer.

The irony, of course, is that outside of this survey, I’m completely satisfied with my dealer.