Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Why Have Surveys or Solicit Comments If No One Will Listen?

Is ignorance truly bliss?

Everyone has a bad experience at one time or another while traveling. Companies will often monitor customer satisfaction with surveys or by answering comments through social media outlets. The problems are often not resolved. Why have surveys or solicit comments if no one will listen?

Why Have Surveys or Solicit Comments If No One Will Listen?

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The following is a typical real example of a useless response to a bad customer experience:

We’re extremely sorry to read about your experience.

We do appreciate you taking the time to leave us a review and providing us with this feedback. We’re always striving to improve and as a result, we will forward this to local management for review.

The irony is that the same response is used for a variety of complaints from multiple customers — often “copied and pasted” word for word, which further dilutes the appearance of sincerity that the company is attempting to convey…

…and for the piece de resistance with regard to this blatant failure of customer satisfaction, the issues are virtually never resolved.

To add insult to injury, the company may even have the nerve to promote its products or services to the dissatisfied customer as though no service failure ever happened — even if the customer moved on to patronizing competitors.

Final Boarding Call

Econo Lodge Columbus Mississippi
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

The following text is a response to an e-mail message I received earlier today, Friday, May 10, 2024 after I was asked to rate my stay at a resort property recently:

We are beyond disappointed to know we did not meet your expectations and had several areas where we could not perform at the level that has earned our reputation and the trust of our guests. Please know we are taking your feedback humbly and seriously as it is the only way for us to continue to offer an incredibly special and customized experience to all of our guests. We hope you have the opportunity to welcome you back in the near future and rekindle your trust and love for our resort.

Oh…whoopie. That response was about as helpful and beneficial to me as an oil change at a doughnut shop or a dry hydrant during a raging fire. What incentive do I have to return?

This practice of ignoring customer feedback seems to have worsened in recent years — almost as if companies do not need customers. I am typically not the type of customer who complains; but I have personally experienced several examples of failures in customer service and recovery myself in recent months, which have caused me to patronize competing companies when I feel that my concerns have been ignored.

I am absolutely certain that no meaningful improvements were implemented to this hotel property which was so disgusting, I spent the night in a rental car instead — despite my bringing my awful experience to the attention of anyone associated with it.

Have you experienced failures in customer service yourself recently? If so, please impart your experience in the Comments section below, which may be used in a future article to follow up on this article…

All photographs ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

  1. I can only relate to the response side of things from prior experience with an airline. Per DOT, we had to be very specific as to how a customer should address an issue with us, especially if it hinted toward certain topics (anything remotely related to disability, for one big one). Such as keeping records of correspondence, making a dispositive response within certain time frames, following a prescribed and approved communications process. Thus if anything, you’ll see an airline try to deflect any social media or review site comments toward the customer initiating a one-on-one direct conversation through certain avenues. I would get certain complaints because people found me on LinkedIn or otherwise regarding the airports I managed, or forwarded by an airport authority’s so-helpful customer service advocate, but I could not reply other than forwarding on or re-directing.

    I’ve had some good responses to complaints or concerns send directly. I had one incident with Hilton last year where I wrote a complaint about a property (airport shuttle not running when website said it was, had to pay $60 in Uber round trip for the 2 mile drive between airport and hotel). Hilton deferred it to the property who called me the next day about reimbursement – didn’t happen so I complained again to Hilton. Property reached out again, nothing happened upon submitting receipts. I complained a third time and Hilton corporate cust relations reached out with bonus points and a reimbursement within 2 days.

    I made the error of renting from Hertz last year at DFW. Or attempting to. Some other customer took the keys out of the car I had checked out and wouldn’t hand them over, and the booth wouldn’t do anything about it but say that the exit booth would correct it all when they verified IDs. Yeah, no, that car was driven for a week under my name around Dallas and got charged to me (I walked to National after the initial exchange and told Hertz to cancel my reservation). No response from Hertz until I went to social media. Then I got a bunch of bogus crap like you quoted above. So, I called the DFW Airport police and filed a police report against Hertz (Amex gave me my money back instantly anyway after Hertz didn’t even reply to them). Police went over to Hertz with charges of fraud and something akin to aiding theft of a vehicle. Hertz told them to pound sand so according to the Sgt I spoke with, they threatened to take the manager into custody. It got resolved.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences, NedsKid.

      Coincidentally, my recent customer service experiences also involved Hilton and Hertz — which I will share publicly in articles…

  2. Because some industry certifications (ISO 9001 etc) require a documented customer satisfaction process.

    In theory, the certification also requires that you analyze the customer sat and take appropriate corrective action. In practice, well …

    There also are industry recognition awards and other well-intentioned corporate initiatives where having a useless customer feedback mechanism checks off all sorts of boxes.

    It’s not about customers or satisfaction.

    1. Thank you for that sensible explanation, Ralph.

      Ironically, those processes defeat the entire purpose for what they were meant to do…

  3. I know of a complaint. Will The Gate with Brian Cohen help a little? (If so, I can communicate privately).

  4. Sometimes a company will black ball/black list you if you complain or leave a negative review/comment.

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