Toys dressed up as customer satisfaction

By | Category: Travel rumblings
sign asking fatuous question

But I can’t say why I liked or disliked it

My apologies to regular readers but I have a moan coming on. As usual it is connected to customer satisfaction. As usual it is about the ridiculous ways that we are often hoodwinked into believing that organisations are really interested in our opinions and, as usual, it is glitz that is employed rather than solid research.

And, as usual, I should declare an interest in that I have been monitoring customer satisfaction for over 25 years in the travel business so I claim to know at least as much about as those that employ it.

As readers know I was in Berlin for ITB – the travel trade show. I flew into and out of Tegel airport and my moans are connected to these two places.

There are hundreds of press conferences and talks given at ITB. At some of the areas where the talks took place there was a portable machine with a sign saying “How did you like this session” and an option of a button which varies from happy to unhappy. I don’t know how many people pressed one of the buttons but if anyone did how would you interpret it?

Tegel asked a question – did I have a pleasant flight – but gave me no opportunity to answer

If I was unhappy was it because of the mumbling of the speaker; the fact that the content was not as advertised; that it turned out to be just a sales pitch, that it was spoken in a language I didn’t understand and there was no translation or that it was virtually the same speech that the same person/minister for tourism gave last year?  Was it because the room was too hot, I couldn’t hear properly or that photographers jumping around to get the best shots blocked my view of the presentation on the screen. There could be any number of reasons but ITB won’t know because they used a machine that wasn’t programmed to probe why I was disappointed.

Much the same happened at the airport. There the equipment said “We care about your opinions” before a screen asked whether I felt comfortable with us today.

and when I left I couldn’t say why I was “comfortable.” The signage was also only in English

Firstly it was only in English despite the fact that the flight at the next gate went to Zagreb so why not in Croatian? And why no German? There were certainly Germans on the flight with me to Birmingham?

Secondly what does “comfortable” mean in this context? Can I be comfortable with signage? It sounds as though I would consider it acceptable but not “good” or “excellent.”

On arrival at Tegel a few days earlier, I was asked if I had a pleasant flight but couldn’t say yes or no because there was no answer that could be given. The rule should be don’t ask for a comment if it can’t be given.

Instead I was asked to rate things like waiting time for passport control and baggage collection. If I was happy it could because I was first in the queue. If unhappy, it could be because I was last, or my luggage arrived damaged or wet.

My annoyance is that this system gives me no opportunity to give me an explanation of my answer. As such it cannot possibly help the airport. All it does is give me a toy to play with. And play with it people do as I found at London City, and Heathrow where similar toys are on display.

I must look in Hamley’s or Toys R Us to see if there is an age recommendation before I buy one for my grandchildren to play with next Christmas.

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