Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Metric Is Not the Goal

Yesterday at the supermarket, I received the card shown at the left along with my receipt. Christa was doing her job, making sure that customers knew that there was a survey and an associated contest. Many businesses run contests or offer other incentives to increase their survey response rates. It's not a great practice, but it's not uncommon, either. So far, not optimal, but acceptable. The problem begins with the words, "If you were HIGHLY satisfied with your experience today..." which implies that if I wasn't highly satisfied, I shouldn't bother completing their survey.

The goal here is clearly not to gather useful information about the store, the brand, the merchandise or the service. The goal is clearly not improvement. The goal for Shaw's is to have a high score. They've made the metric their goal.

The metric is not the goal: The metric is there to help you measure your progress toward your goal.

The goal shouldn't be to get a higher score. The goal should be to improve.

Shaw's does have an ongoing problem that was clearly evident in my shopping experience yesterday: They consistently run out of sale items early in the sale. My stop yesterday was prompted by a phone call from my spouse, who said, "If you're passing by Shaw's, they have X, Y and Z on sale today and tomorrow." I did get X, and Y, but they were out of Z, in every flavor and type. It's a three day sale, and I stopped in on day two

For the record, my first "real" job back in high school and college was in a high volume supermarket chain, where I started as a bagger, became a cashier and then went on to the customer service desk and later became a department manager. I know the difficulties of predicting demand for sale items, and I can forgive the occasional miss. In this case, I was surprised Shaw's had X and Y because they are so often out of sale items.

So, I decided to go online to the survey link for two reasons: a) Because I wasn't going to give them a 10, and b) Because I had something to say - stock more sale items.

But I did not complete the survey. Not because I knew that Shaw's isn't interested, but because they immediately wanted to make it about the checkout and the cashier, not about the complete experience of shopping at Shaw's. Not about any improvements I might suggest. Not about the quality of their brand products.

Shaw's, your customers can give you very valuable information. They can tell you about problems you may have overlooked, for one thing. But more than that, they can help you improve your products and services, and in doing that, win more customers in the bargain.

Are you listening, Shaw's? Well, no, you aren't; you're busy checking your score.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"That's OK. I Don't Need Customers"

Each year, my best friend and I spend a couple of days together. We catch up on what's new, remember what's old, and usually do something golf related. This year, we decided to try  golf simulation place located at a country club not too far from where we were staying. We drove to the club. arriving a little after noon.

We were welcomed and offered food, since it was their open house weekend. We asked where the simulator was, and were directed to a building next door to the club's restaurant.

I had brought my clubs along for the occasion, expecting to spend an hour or two hitting balls onto virtual fairways and greens. We could hear golf balls being hit.  A gentleman appeared behind the counter, and we asked for some time on the simulator.

"No, I'm closing up as soon as these people are done."
"Really? We drove here just to use the simulator. It's $32 an hour, right?"
"Yes, but I'm done for today."

So the man who runs this operation wouldn't stay open for an hour to make two customers he did not know (perhaps we'd be future regulars) happy. In fact he accomplished the opposite, making me feel rather odd as I trundled my clubs back out across the parking lot.

Do you think this operation will be in business next year? I don't.

Give it some thought.