This is one of those great New York Times stories that make you shake your head and ask yourself, “What are these people thinking?”

In “When Businesses Can’t Stop Asking, ‘How Am I Doing,” William Grimes looks at how ceaseless customer satisfaction surveys are testing consumers’ patience.

Grimes looks at how ceaseless surveys are testing consumers’ patience.

One person fighting back is Louisville-based businesswoman Kimberly Nasief, who owns Measure Consumer Perspectives, a mystery-shopper agency.

Who you’d think would be kinda sympathetic. Because it’s part of her work, Nasief is … to a point. The breaking point.

Technology has made it possible for every company on the planet to create customer surveys, so they have.

(Okay, we’re suckers for a lot of these things because they’ve upped the ante … you can be eligible to enter a contest to be part of a lottery for A BRAND NEW CAR!”)

But, in the effort to pump ever bit of data out of consumers, retailers – especially the giant chains – made them about as brief and painless as a William Faulkner novel.

From the NYTimes story.

(Nasief) recently wrote a screed on her blog, Service Witch, about the excessive length and lack of focus in most online surveys.

“The one that broke my back was a survey for Babies ‘R’ Us,” she said in an interview. “I wrote a blog entry, ‘Infant Who Begins Babies “R” Us Customer Satisfaction Survey Dies of Old Age.’ ”

In an act of revenge, she has posted videos on YouTube showing the painful process of filling out her least favorite surveys, from Walmart, Wendy’s, Continental Airlines, and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores — this last is an epic requiring two videos.

Check out this video from Nasief’s ordeal with Babies ‘R’ Us:

So, retailers expect us to spend – what? – days working on their surveys.

Let’s hope Nasief’s work and the NYTimes story encourage retailers to rethink what they’re trying to achieve beyond driving their customers crazy before driving them away.

And check out the videos on the Service Witch blog, which confirm what every shopper knows … somebody out there – maybe Measure Consumer Perspectives – could make a whole lot of money helping retailers stop making the retail experience so impersonal and unpleasant.

 

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