Perhaps the most fascinating part of the car-buying experience is that salesperson admonition to “give me all 10s!” on the post-sale customer-satisfaction survey.
I say “fascinating” for a few reasons. First, while buying a new car can be quite exciting, the haggling and unnecessary theatrics that often accompany the purchasing process can quickly tarnish the experience. So even if, in the end, you get the shiny new automobile of your dreams, it’s not terribly realistic that you would fondly recall – at the ’10′ level – all aspects of the purchase.
Second, even for a culture that has seemingly adopted an ethos where everyone is above average, where everyone is special, is it really realistic to think that the professionals at the dealership could ever be “perfect?” As in, couldn’t possibly be better? As in, one’s expectations could be exceeded to the point that, on a 10-point scale, one would max-out at 10 out of 10 in all categories when warmly reflecting on the exchange?
And lastly, which is the point that makes all of this craziness applicable to our work in the nonprofit sector, why would an employee want – or more importantly, why would the organization want –artificially inflated feedback?
Even if it’s unrealistic to think that an individual employee would want truly honest feedback and potentially [constructive] criticism, I can’t imagine the reigning organization would be very happy about an agent of the organization pleading with its external stakeholders, seemingly as a personal favor, to award higher-than-warranted ratings. Organizations and their employees should savor the opportunity to get straightforward, unvarnished feedback. Knowing how you’re actually doing so that you can adapt, grow, and improve is pure gold.
I’ve had the opportunity to go through car-buying routine several times, and the asking-for-the-highest-marks routine has been done time after time over the years, regardless of the model car. I will admit that the higher-end dealers qualify their ask by stating something to the effect of, “if there’s anything that I or the dealer has done that won’t allow you to give us a perfect score, please let us know now.” That’s a little classier, and opens the door to some on-the-spot feedback.
While my most recent auto purchase a couple of weeks ago went fairly well, the back-and-forth haggling went on a bit too long – especially prompted my an attempted absurd $2,000 surcharge over MSRP, an attempt to sneak in “gap” insurance into the purchase contract without my knowledge, and a painful, elongated sales job for the inevitable extended warranty, et al. At least the ol’ paint sealant up-sell didn’t rear its head.
My point is, with all that, how in good conscience could I award all 10s on a survey that will be showing up in the in-box any day now? I can’t, and shouldn’t. So out of the dealership and back in to our nonprofits, how can we improve upon the feedback mechanisms that we have in place to increase the volume of data as well as its quality? And how can we shape an organizational culture of evolving and strengthening the organization based on the feedback we receive? After all, the value is not in the 10s– it’s in learning about the 5s, 6s, and 7s!