Yesterday, I returned a loan car from the dealership’s onsite rental agency after the repairs on my vehicle were completed.
As the check-in person was finishing the paperwork, she asked:
“How was our service, today?”
“Okay,” I responded flatly, a little surprised after years of indifferent treatment that this agency was suddenly interested.
“Are you COMPLETELY SATISFIED?”
I hesitated, calculating exactly where we were heading with this conversation, which suddenly took on a confrontational tone.
“I don’t like responding to a forced question like that,” I replied, which seemed to frustrate and flummox the clerk.
(I didn’t have the time to explain if I said the service was “Okay” that isn’t equivalent in my estimation to “Completely Satisfied.” On a scale, it’s closest to “Somewhat Satisfied.” This makes my response two or three intervals less positive than her characterization, coming after “Not Satisfied” but well before “Satisfied” and “Very Satisfied.”)
“But you’re COMPLETELY SATISFIED?” she insisted, obviously trying to compel me to say “Yes,” so she could tally the response later on, putting it in the “win” column.
“The service was OKAY, okay?” I crackled, taking Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic my receipt and walking away.
Obviously, this is no way to elicit accurate feedback from customers. For one thing, it’s way too intrusive. And it’s rude, belying one of the core components of acceptable service: politeness.
Customers don’t want to be put on the spot, compelled to disclose their attitudes and feelings. Under compulsion, what we say is highly suspect, anyway, and it isn’t much good in giving guidance to companies regarding their performance.
If companies are after “the truth” they need to monitor the nonverbal behavior of clients. I walked back into the rental agency to make this point.
“If you want to know if were satisfied, look at our faces.”
I pointed to a fellow to my left, obviously perturbed.
“He’s not satisfied, now look at me.”
“I’m fairly satisfied; do you see the difference?”
Shocked at hearing an impromptu lesson in unobtrusive customer service quality measurement, the clerk nodded and then muttered, “Nonverbal communication is important.”
By teaching CSR’s and people in all areas of business how to precisely monitor, measure, and manage the nonverbal aspects of communication, we can detect our own gaffes and fix customer concerns well before transactions conclude.
That’s a heck of a lot better than forcibly trying to get customers to rubber stamp OUR opinion that we delivered stellar service.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman is the best-selling author of 12 books and more than a thousand articles. A frequent expert commentator o