Be careful who collects your data

01_misaligned_bridge_503My internet service provider engaged a market research firm to get customer feedback about their help desk. I had recently called the desk twice in two days, the first time receiving – from a UK-based centre – rigid, script-based ‘service’ which concluded with the operator telling me that, despite the evidence of my senses, I actually wasn’t experiencing a problem at all, and the second time getting superb assistance from a genuinely concerned Mumbai-based expert (we chatted while my computer was rebooting and it turned out he had a masters degree in computer science). He sounded delighted when he fixed my problem and I had felt moved to speak to his supervisor to commend him.

The market researcher who called me a few days later to conduct the survey asked me to rate my most recent experience of the help desk. I pointed out that it was superb, but at total odds with the day before, and therefore not representative, fair or helpful feedback – what did he want to do? He should have simply given up the call as unsuitable, but instead he told me in a flat tone to just pick either example, because he had to complete the script now that he had started.

Presumably some executive was going to use the results of this survey as feedback for managing the help-desk service, an idea about as effective as trying to drive a bus with a bucket over your head.

Some observations…

  • About ‘motivation’: The help-desk guy in Mumbai was presumably being paid a modest amount, but he was clearly enjoying the opportunity to use his expertise and problem-solving skills to help a customer.
  • About customer, and employee, satisfaction: The (UK-based) market researcher was forced to act like an idiot by rigid micromanagement. The call was frustrating for both of us.
  • About data for decision-making: You have got to be very careful who you ask to collect data for you!