by David Ham | May 16, 2017
Society seems to have an attention span that is getting shorter and shorter. We (yes, I’m admittedly including myself when I say “we”) look for news in statements of 140 characters or less on social media. Some are looking for relationships by “swiping right” on a popular dating app. That same mindset has entered the realm of customer and employee experience research as many businesses think they can capture feedback by asking just one question.
My family recently enjoyed a vacation in New York City. Since I live in an area with little mass transit, I very much enjoyed the convenience of being able to get around using the subway instead of driving and parking everywhere. However, there were a few instances where the subway wasn’t convenient and I was introduced to the world of ride sharing. I downloaded an app for a ride sharing service. Three times, I requested and received a pick-up. Each of those three rides went very well. Polite, professional drivers arrived quickly and drove my family and I to various destinations.
Following each of those three rides, I promptly received an email from the ride sharing company. The email was helpful. It provided a receipt showing the cost of the ride, as well as the date, time, and location. It also included the name and a photograph of the driver, and asked me to rate the driver on a five-star scale. It’s a good way to get transactional feedback about the driver’s performance and I was glad to give each driver a deserved five-star rating.
The problem with these very short transactional surveys is that they can mask other issues that prevent the occasional “hook up” from turning into a long-term relationship. While I had three successful rides with this company, I attempted to use the service four times. That fourth time was an attempt to get a driver to a busy intersection in rush hour. It had been raining off and on and our destination was a long walk from a subway station, hence the desire for a ride.
I tried the app. It told me a driver was coming, his name, and when he would be there (approximately five minutes). After about four minutes, the app notified me that the driver would not be coming but another driver had been summoned. He was about seven minutes away. After about four minutes, another notification. Then a third driver cancelled.
Just after that third failed attempt, a man approached us from a car parked nearby. He asked if we were waiting for a car from a certain service, no doubt seeing the frustration on my face as I stared at my phone, and showed identification indicating he drove for that company. He asked where we were going and what price the app had quoted. I told him and he offered to drive us, undercutting the company’s price by $10 in return for a cash transaction.
I momentarily questioned the wisdom of getting in a car with a stranger (and others have since questioned my judgement), but it was a nice car, he was nicely dressed with proper ID, the weather was lousy, and, with four of us riding, I figured we could put up a good fight if needed. He drove us. I paid cash when we got to our destination. It was fine, from my perspective.
Now think about it from the perspective of the business. They have received my feedback on three different occasions telling them everything was fine with the respective transactions. My future loyalty, however, is in question because of the difficulty getting a ride when I needed it most.
Perhaps this company sends the occasional “relationship” survey to better assess their performance overall. If so, I will tell them about the revenue lost during my past trip and the possible effect on my future purchase behavior. That type of information would allow for customer follow-up or proactive changes to drive revenue.
Brief transactional surveys can help evaluate a one-time service, but broader relationship surveys are also needed to understand the more complex set of perceptions and experiences that can turn the one-time hook up into a long-term relationship.