Sorry, but the survey is experiencing an indefinite delay

4331117971_93b6dabfb7How many companies do you know would conduct a customer satisfaction survey right smack in the midst of a serious product or service SNAFU?


– Microsoft survey female executives in the immediate aftermath of CEO Satya Nadella’s oh-so-insensitive remarks about women in the workplace?

– My all-time favorite fast food chain, McDonald’s, have asked parents their thoughts on the Hello Kitty whistles that were shown to be possible choking risks to their children?

Takata, the Japanese automobile manufacturer whose air bags began deploying at will and injuring drivers, have asked customers, “So, how are those air bags treating you?

I ask these seemingly inane questions because I was recently handed a customer satisfaction survey by New Jersey Transit while I was stuck IN THE MIDST of a yet another unexpected and indefinite delay.

I kid you not. As we passengers sat stewing somewhere near the tourist attraction otherwise known as Rahway State Prison, an NJT employee dressed liked a Salvation Army refugee suddenly appeared. She strolled up and down the aisles distributing surveys while murmuring, “Fill them out and hand them in at Penn Station.” She simply oozed warmth and caring.

Needless to say, I was both appalled, and amused, at the mere prospect of NJT’s assessing customer satisfaction at the precise moment anger levels were soaring higher than the international space station.

My favorite question was a multiple-choice one, entitled:

“How likely are you to recommend this service to a friend or relative?”

After gagging, I responded by scribbling, “I wouldn’t recommend this service to my worst enemy.”

It seems to me the best time to field a customer satisfaction survey is either after you’ve solved a major problem or have instituted a program that consistently surprises and delights audiences. Brand haters will always exist, but a smartly timed survey should produce a more balanced response that will elicit real insights.

But, when you’re @newjerseytransit, and have little to no competition, you can pretty much field a survey after a trail derailment and still not worry about the results.

All of which has inspired me to suggest yet another tagline for my favorite rail system, “NJT: Pouring salt on the wound.”


8 thoughts on “Sorry, but the survey is experiencing an indefinite delay

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  2. Well, Peter, as you no doubt know Allstate features aa character named mayhem in their advertising. Based upon your experience, they were merely delivering on a brand promise.

    • But Allstate’s TV spokesman played the President on “24.” Shouldn’t that make them more trustworthy?

  3. Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me one bit. Many enterprises have decided it’s faster/better/cheaper for them to look like they’re trying to improve customer service, rather than actually doing anything.

    I live in downtown Brooklyn, New York City, less than 2 miles from the World Trade Center. Somehow, Allstate mistakenly assigned my homeowner’s insurance to Town Class 4. That means their data said we were served by a VOLUNTEER fire department.

    I yelled, screamed, complained, went on social media, even invoked the 343 who died on 9/11 yet nothing could sway Allstate’s system. They said it was MY responsibility to prove to them, with FDNY documentation, that I was served by the nation’s largest professional fire-fighting department.

    My agent didn’t want to deal with this and went MIA. I wrote the head of customer service, who previously did the same job for United Airlines. I know you’d appreciate that, RepMan. After 7 rounds of this, I gave up, canceled my policy and went with State Farm.

    Allstate continues to send customer service satisfaction surveys and a FINAL BILL of $10 for the few days my policy was in effect for November. Unbelievable.

  4. Steve my wife and I recently purchased a stove from Home Depot. I’ll spare everyone the long and tragic story, after three botched delivery attempts, 10 calls to the third-party delivery service (I kept notes), two calls to store and regional Home Depot managers we finally decided to return the stove and buy one elsewhere. While returning the stove we were told it may take a few days for the funds to be credited to our debit card. We finally received a call saying we need to go back to the store with the card, the same card we had when returning the stove, in person at the same store a week ago and after the rep informed me of this latest obstacle, she asked if I’d hold and complete a customer service satisfaction survey. But wait it gets better. I told her I’d be happy to complete a survey, when she transferred me to the survey, I was cut off and the line went dead.

    • These stories are classic. What I’d like to know is: Exactly what do these companies do with the results of these so-called Customer Satisfaction Surveys? Clearly, they don’t affect the level of service, since nothing seems to improve. So why do they waste their time (and the public’s time) in asking for answers to questions that they obviously do not want?