Stop asking the same bleeping questions…

Recently, I had some service done on my Prius, BTW: if there was ever a car company and model embracing the social space, it has to be the Toyota Prius.  Their new campaign is designed around crowdsourcing innovation using components from the car.  Basically teams are breaking down the car and using various components (solar sun roof, brake system, hybrid synergy drive, etc.) to re-configure them around unique innovations.  I think this is brilliant and has interesting implication as you can see with our local ambassadors of innovation, DeepLocal - (but more about that later).

I had a fairly standard service completed.  Lost my smartkey, so they had to order and reprogram a new one.  Apparently, this is more involved than it seems.  You cannot just order one from eBay, jailbreak it and program it yourself, much to my dismay.  Well, I’m sure there are ways mere consumers can do it but that’s beyond my limited capacities.  You need to order it from Toyota and have your dealership program it with specialized equipment.  It went smoothly enough after I made this realization and then I was confronted with the after service survey.  Not by one or even two but by three different groups.  Yes, the dealership wanted to know about my experience but so did Toyota Finance (I’m leasing the car) as well as Toyota Parts.  In fact one of them kept calling almost every night right around the time I was putting my kids to bed.  Finally, I answered the call and it was the same bleeping questions as the other surveys.  In fact they were all pretty much similar i.e. how satisfied were you with the service and if not, what could we have done differently.  Some were more involved and drawn out asking round about questions that basically wanted the same fundamental information.

This annoyed me to no end but I understand the justification.  In our hyper connected, real time, socially engaged world, organizations more than ever want to reconnect with consumers to assess customer experience, collect data and improve satisfaction ratios.  But this was not the way to do it.  One of the aspects we discuss continually in my social analysis class is sharing of data, collaboration across geographies, departments, skill sets, demographics, etc.  This seems simple enough.  Why couldn’t these three groups collaborate on a simple survey?  Why can’t my survey answers be available somewhere in the cloud where I can grant access for other to view them – sort of like profile portability which is still not available despite lots of work in this area (yet, another blog post).

Organizations need to understand that consumers are not a point in time, an incident that occurred or a piece of data that needs to be recorded.  Along with the trend toward consumerism, there needs to be a holistic view of customers, which in this rudimentary example includes the fact that I have already answered the survey and willingly provided the necessary information.  I spoke about this in one of my first blog posts entitled “Little Help Over Here” Unfortunately this will only occur when companies realize that there is value in sharing data much like all of us who are involved with and get value from online social communities.  However, with legacy systems and policies around data collection and distribution as well as security and privacy concerns, I don’t think this will change quickly.  But I would love to see one day a company ask me after conducting a survey would you mind if we shared your responses with X, Y and Z?

About Ari

I am a Professor, Digital Media and Marketing at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University and I teach classes focused on assessing and measuring the impact of emerging technologies including Digital Transformations, Marketing and Measuring Social. This later class is designed as an experiential learning, project-based class where students work closely with company sponsors to develop recommendations and an analysis framework around a social initiative. The class provides students an overview of the social space, identification of key trends, issues and player, measurement tools and techniques as well as a comprehensive understanding of the business ramifications in adopting a social based strategy. Prior to diving into the professorial role, I have a bunch of experience in new technology development and commercialization. I started a consulting company, Broadside, which provides services to companies/organizations around collaboration, innovation and new technology development. I was also a member of several successful entrepreneurial high tech ventures doing a bunch of stuff from product management to business development. Over my career I have developed communities and digital media strategies for companies and organizations within healthcare, chemical industry, telecom industry, consumer packaged goods market, and the financial services space. Also I have done some work with universities to put together strategies and processes for building expert communities to accelerate technology commercialization.
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