Some random thoughts about some puzzling and odd - OK, let's be honest: they're annoying - business practices that have caught my attention:
- Budget asked me to complete an online questionnaire about a recent car rental. I found it odd that the survey offered only check boxes and radio buttons, and provided no option for submitting feedback via text boxes. I think companies that craft surveys like this are fooling themselves into thinking they're really getting into the minds of their customers. Those companies may believe they're asking all the right questions, but invariably, they don't. Allowing for some freeform feedback should enhance the value of the process, but perhaps it's too much work for them to process. Why even bother, if that's the case?
- Then there's the US Postal Service, who also asked me to submit feedback. They sent a printed questionnaire (I guess they get special postage rates) and provided an option to complete an online survey. A week later, I got a reminder postcard providing the URL for the online survey. Here's the odd thing: the survey requires a username and password to access, and I assume that combination is tied back to my identity. OK, I can live with that. But they also included that login information on the postcard. Now, I know my letter carrier and have no doubt it would never enter her mind to fill out that survey herself, but when you're asking for feedback about an individual's performance, this doesn't seem to be a very secure way to ensure that such feedback is coming from the right source.
- My and Debbie's alma mater, Texas A&M, is updating its Former Students Directory, and has hired a company to compile that information. Said company, instead of providing a convenient online process for doing so, is requiring us to make a phone call to update/confirm our information. And they're sending each of us a weekly reminder postcard. We've gotten about ten of them between us, all of which have gone straight to the trash. Sorry, folks; we live in the Internet Age, and if it requires a phone call, it ain't happenin'. This is especially odd considering that the university does provide an online method of updating your contact information for ongoing purposes (like donation requests).
- Ever notice how some companies are quick to charge your credit card, but slow to credit it if you return a product or cancel a service? We recently made a reservation at a hotel, then canceled it the next day due to a change in plans. The charge hit our account the same day we made the online reservation; the credit arrived two weeks after we canceled online. The result of those two weeks was that we'll have to pay the credit card bill this month, and wait until next month to get a credit, instead of getting offset transactions in the same month. Yeah, it's a valid business practice, but it doesn't build any goodwill with your customers.