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Episode 20

It's rare that I'm ever excited by snail-mail, but this is an exception that just has the prove the rule.

"You little BEAUTY!" I cry, waving the piece of paper around like a Get-out-of-Jail-Free card.

"And to normal people that would mean?" The PFY asks, obviously bitter about having missed out on something.

"Dear Customer," I read. "As a frequent and valued purchaser of our goods and services we would like to request your time in completing a Customer Satisfaction Survey. A complimentary gift basket will be delivered to you in appreciation for the time taken to complete the survey. Please respond to the email address below to book a time for the interview with your Customer Representative.

"PS. All participants will go into a separate draw to win a weekend for two in Paris!"

"A gift basket and a week at Frog Central," The PFY sniffles sarcastically. "I can see the appeal already..."

I ignore his comments in my haste to RSVP. "Now what time?" I wonder out loud. "Two weeks is far too late - I'll want to be in early..."

...THREE DAYS LATER...

"Well I must say, I really appreciate your keenness!" Paul, our Rep from Vendor Central blurts after slipping me the fifth copy of his card I've had this year, along with his hand, all in an effort to curry a bit of favour and the odd increment in the 'approachability' area.

The fool.

"Oh, always willing to help out with a survey - after all, if you guys don't get feedback, how on earth are you going to tell how satisfied we are!" I blurt, going for the full brown-nose badge of honour.

"Yes, well, we really appreciate it. And is this your... er... cleaner?" he asks, nodding in an abstractly friendly manner at The PFY.

"Assistant!" I correct, before The PFY can slip him his hand, and a brick to the back of the head.

"Oh, my mistake. Excellent. Well, down to business! I don't know what you know about these surveys-"

"A bit," I interject. "I've done a few of them in the past. Not for about three years with your company though - they seemed to have stopped for a while there. Gave up caring what the customer wanted, did they?" I ask, pulling the Microsoft draw card.

"NOT AT ALL!" he gasps. "No, we've spent the last three years developing a survey that was more tailored to the questions we wanted answered. And of course less likely to be... uh... skewed... by invalid criteria."

"Skewed?" I ask.

"Yes," He responds.

A meaningful pause later, he continues. "Well, you see it was found that customers were sometimes, well, extorting things from staff in return for good survey reports."

"You're joking!" The PFY gasps from across the room, suddenly realising the real value of a customer survey.

"Not at all!" our Rep gasps. "People would want better service."

"AND WHAT RIGHT HAVE THEY GOT TO BETTER SERVICE!?!" I ask, shocked.

"Indeed!" Paul continues. "But that's not all. Sometimes they would ask for gratuities - bribes, in other words!"

"No!" The PFY whispers, moving closer.

"Yes! But I think the crunch came when the customers gave up on the money, and actually made the company staff compete against each other for ratings! In one case, one of our customers made a manager and an engineer race against each other down a carpark builing in wheelie chairs!"

"Yes," I sigh, remembering that one fondly. "Engineer Dave versus Site Manager Tim. Dave didn't stand a chance against Tim - not with the wind resistance he'd got from all those lunchtime pints. Still, I don't think Tim believed Dave would loosen the wheels on his chair just to win. The proctologist got the handle out in the end, of course, but Tim never sat at a desk again..."

"You knew this?"

"Knew it? I arranged it. And I had ten quid on Dave. Always back a man with a big hammer, that's what I say."

"Well, I think you'll find this survey is a sight more professional!" Paul responds, customer focus blurring slightly with this revelation.

"Of course it is! Shall we start?"

"OK. First question. Which option best describes the Quality of Service you've received from your Customer Representative - that's me - in the past 12 months. A. Excellent, B. Good, C..."

"Is crap on the list?" The PFY butts-in, wanting some of the action.

"No, your choices are A. Excellent, B. Good, C. Average, D. Fair or E. Poor."

"E," I respond.

"E," Paul scribbles unhappily. "Now. Which option describes the Speed of Service you've received from your Customer Representative - again, me - in the past 12 months. A. Excellent, B. Good, C..."

"Is crap on the list?" The PFY repeats, thinking jugular.

"No! Your choices are A..."

"E," I respond.

"E," Paul sighs. "Which option best describes the Quality of New Product Information brought to you by your Customer Representative in the past 12 months. A. Excellent, B. Good, C..."

"Is crap on the..."

"NO!"

"E," I cry.

... Two minutes later...

"...the help in Maintenance Contracts you've received from me in the past 12 months. A. Excellent, B. Good, C. NOCRAPISNOTONTHELIST!"

"E."

"E." ...sigh... "Right, now onto Engineering Services. Which option best describes the Quality of Service you've received from your Engineer in the past 12 Months? A. Exc..."

"Is F***ing Brilliant on the list?" The PFY asks.

"What?"

"F***ing Brilliant - is it on the list?"

"F***ing Brilliant? From your Engineer? Steve?"

"Yeah, he's Brilliant!"

"THE MAN'S TOOLKIT CONSISTS OF A HAMMER," Paul cries. "A BLOODY HAMMER! THAT'S ALL, JUST A HAMMER!"

"Yes," I cry, "but when we call him out, he uses the hammer, and we get a replacement machine. With a replacement-part 12-month-from-install warranty."

"F***ing Brilliant," the PFY echoes once more.

"So you're giving him As and me Es?" he gasps.

"Yes."

"He's a retard with a hammer."

"He may be a retard, but he gets the job done," I respond.

"And he knows his way down a carpark building in a wheelie chair," The PFY smirks, cutting to the chase.

"So you think you can get me to race him down a carpark building? It's not going to happen!"

"Suit yourself," I respond. "But how much is a good rating worth? An extra 5k a year on your salary at least, leather upholstery and a litre increment in the engine capacity of the company car. Not to mention a secretary who doesn't look like a poster child for a fireworks safety campaign..."

"I-I'LL DO IT!"

Two hours and a couple of phone calls later, it's all on. The PFY and slap a couple of chairs into the company van and and head to the nearest carpark building...

"RIGHT, I WANT A GOOD FAIR RACE, NO CHEATING AND NO CUTTING PEOPLE OFF," I cry. "Winner is the first person we see come out the exit on the ground floor. You've got three floors to go, and remember to keep left on the corners. ARE YOU READY?! TAKE YOUR MARKS... GO!"

A sprint and some scraping sounds later, they're off and down the first ramp. The PFY and I take our places gazing over the side at the exit ramp.

"Ten quid says Paul's the first out!" The PFY cries, "he looks sneaky!"

"You're on!" I cry.

One floor below we hear the chairs scrape by at speed.

"What do you know that I don't know?" The PFY blurts, reconsidering the bet.

"All sorts of things. Care to up your bet?"

"OK! 50 quid on Steve first out."

"You're on!"

"NO! A HUNDRED!" the PFY cries, realising reverse psychology for what it is. "ON PAUL!"

"OK!" I cry, realising that there's only seconds left.

"WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!" the PFY gasps.

"Where the van's parked..."

"Where the Van's p..." The PFY starts, stopping at the sound of a couple of distant thuds.

"Oooh look!" I cry, pointing. "I think that's Steve's chair that's just popped out the door. With it's handle missing. That must be 100 quid you owe me."

"You bastard!"

"In the flesh, 100 quid richer, and ready for the next survey..." ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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