Survey fatigue

That’s it. Enough already. I think I’m finally at the point of boycotting surveys. Make a purchase, any purchase, and a day later, a “Tell us how we are doing” survey pops into my inbox. “We need your feedback” or “Your feedback will enable us to serve you better.” Not only purchases. Magazines, hotels, hospitals, dentist’s or doctor’s offices, even visits to the ER. The emergency room wants me to evaluate its competence and bedside — er — gurneyside manner?

Every office visit to a medical practice, routine or serious, elicits a survey, and some of these are long and time-consuming. The same is true of virtually every purchase at a retail store. Buy anything online, no matter  how small, here comes the followup survey. This will take only a few minutes, they say. Help us to serve you better. My time is worth something. I would rather spend it in productive activity.

I do understand. Their motivation is laudable. If a company, store owner, hospital administrator, dentist, magazine publisher or physician wishes to improve, it certainly helps to know what bugs his or her customer, client or patient. But a followup survey for every purchase or encounter? Do you wonder if anyone is actually reading our responses and making changes based on what we say or which boxes we check?

Here’s an idea. Make that two ideas. You want to improve? Begin by eliminating or at least changing your automated phone answering system. Make it easy for a caller to get through to a real person who will listen and actually try to help us. Do I hear an “Amen”?

Second, stop sending me surveys. I promise, if I’m dissatisfied with our shared experience  or your handling of my purchase, I will let you know. Just make it possible for me to get through to a real person to tell him or her about it.

Today’s word: originally or initially? Both adverbs. Often we choose originally when we mean initially. Example: Originally, I told him not to come, but now I want him to. Choose initially, not originally. A subtle but important distinction separates the two. Originally obviously derives from original, which means existing from the first. Initially means at first, which usually is what we mean.

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