Are you? Happy? Are you happy? Really?
What does that actually mean? Happy? Or strike me down before I say this ….. “satisfied”….*cringe*
We’re talking in a business context here. Let’s say you are a business owner. You visit your accountant, say, and they run through your financial accounts with you. It’s been a hard year. Your turnover is down, you’ve made a loss and you’ve laid people off in the period being reviewed.
Are you happy at that point? No… of course not. You’re downbeat, crestfallen, disappointed. You’re as far from happy as you’re going to get. You’re walking through a necessary evil of signing off your annual accounts.
So if your accountant takes the opportunity to get out his silly “are you happy” cards (and yes I’ve seen them in gory technicolour)… you’re not going to be too chuffed are you?
It doesn’t matter how jolly your accountant is, what cup you’re having your coffee in, or how your accounts are modernly bundled together.
So with this in mind…. why do so many feedback attempts follow the focus of asking how “Happy” people are?
And if someone sends you a survey, and you say no… I’m not “Happy”… what happens then?
The point that’s trying to be got over here is the question itself.
If you ask a silly question, you’re going to get a silly answer that at it’s worst could mislead you further into making the wrong decision.
I remember a few months back. I was chatting with a person from Business Link in South Yorkshire and they were proudly boasting that they had satisfaction levels in excess of 93%.
So… I asked what that actually meant and for what services and what situations and from what sort of businesses and for what period. Yes ok…. so maybe I knew the chap wouldn’t have a clue, but it was good sport!
But do you see how pointless a question it is? If I was one of the 7%… what happens? They aren’t asking the question in such a way with such a context that they can fix the problem. If they ask specifically about contact points and services and people involved… they might have a chance of nailing the issue and improving what they do. But a wide open question… “Are you satisfied?” It evades the point.
And sorry for echoing this point, but this point is really crucial. A silly question results in a silly answer. That makes the feedback process pointless and you alienate the person you’re asking. It’s a bit like being asked by your banks call centre people if there’s anything else they can help with when you’re asking them to transfer accounts! It’s pointless, daft and only going to raise the heckles.
So do us a favour. The next time you receive a survey (online survey or paper) and it has a generic question that asks if you are “Happy” or god forbid even worse “Satisfied”… why not be playful and ask “about what?” And if the timing is really silly… pick them up on it.
Feedback is a fantastic opportunity to really understand and improve how a business operates and what it could do to improve. But like estate agents, traffic wardens, MP’s and bankers…. it’s easy to tar online surveys and any feedback process with the brush of annoyance.
Questions that have value, not questions that are vague.
That’s the way forward…. now…. as I’ve got that off my chest, I can step back down from my soapbox… back to watching the Fulham Europa League Final!