Survey Says…

In the last few weeks I’ve come across some hospitably challenged restaurant hosts.  I don’t know what it is, but clearly these folks should not be working with or near the public.  I understand that dealing with other humans, especially when it comes to feeding time, can be difficult, but as a host, you need to be gracious and welcoming.  Not an asshole!

I had arrived at this trendy little place in Santa Monica before my friends had so I stopped by the host stand to put my name down.  The guy never looked up from his iPhone, just asked “name?” then took my cell phone number and told me that it would be about a thirty minute wait and they would text me when the table was ready.  He was gruff, but I figured it was that type of hipster place where they are just too cool for school.  I wanted to check out a store I hadn’t frequented in a while so I took a walk around the block.  A few minutes later my friend Scott arrived at the restaurant and checked with the host to see if I had put my name in.  Again, never looking up, the host said “it’s only been 3 MINUTES since the name has been put on our list and the wait is STILL thirty minutes.  Nothing has changed.”  So obnoxious.

Within minutes the rest of our group arrived and another friend asked the host a question, not knowing anyone else in our party had been to see him yet.  The host answered but then added, “as it’s now ONLY been 8 MINUTES since the name has been put on the list, we’ll text when the table is ready.”

The four of us gathered nearby and decided that this place, aptly named The Misfits,  would not be a good choice to celebrate Scott’s birthday.  Instead we walked across the street to Ye Olde King’s Head, a British pub, and had a fantastic, memorable meal in their dining room.  An hour later I received this text from The Misfit:  Your table is ready. Come check in with the maitre d’ for your table status. You are getting so close!  Maitre d’? He’s no maitre d’!  That sounds too good for him.  Don’t elevate him to that title!  And what do you mean “you’re getting so close”?  Is the table ready or not?  You said 30 minutes, it’s now been 60.

I texted back  “no thank you…the host was rude and we’ve chosen to dine elsewhere.”  They sent me another text reading “sorry about that Alison, we’ll take care of you next time!” Actually, there won’t be a next time.  You only have one chance to make a great first impression and you blew it.

A few days later I was meeting another group of friends at a popular Italian restaurant in my neighborhood.  I got there a little early (I know, it’s a problem I have) and gave my name to the host.   There was no welcoming smile, not even a hello.  “Let me know when your entire group has arrived,” he said, never making eye contact with me.  The table was being cleaned when my friends dropped their car at the valet.  As they walked in, the host asked us to stand outside for a few more minutes while it was getting ready.  Then another waitress said to stand inside since she knew it was cold out.  There was some confusion as to where to wait, then the host told us again to go back outside.  It felt like I was learning a new dance routine.  He seemed bothered by us and was an awkward communicator, definitely not someone who should be interacting with human life forms.

If I’d been asked to complete a survey about these two establishments, they would have received low marks on how their staff greet customers.  But they didn’t ask me…no follow up email, text or call which is surprising because every time I walk into a store, head to the bank, hit Starbucks, look at a website, drive my car, watch a movie, shop online, make a reservation, fly on a plane, or basically breath, there is a company asking me to take a fucking survey!

How was your experience?  What could we have done better?  Was our restaurant clean?  Did your barista take the time to get to know you? How was the boarding process on your flight?  Even a survey at the post office…seriously?  The clerk hands me the receipt and says “please go online and let them now how I did today” as she circles the website with her finger nail. Why???  I bought stamps…how difficult is that transaction for a postal employee?  If I actually took the time to answer all of these survey’s I’d be spending half of my day on them!

They always start with “this should only take a few minutes.”  That’s after you’ve been on hold for 45 minutes with the cable company and the recorded message asks if you want to stay on the phone after you speak with a representative to complete their short survey.  NO THANK YOU!!!

I hadn’t taken the cruise with my mom and sister yet, but Holland America asked me to take a survey about my pre cruise experience…WTF?  Wait for me to take the cruise!

There was a time when American Airlines would give me 250 or 500 bonus miles to take a survey.  It was usually questions about the food and service in Business Class.  Several times I asked in the comments section ‘why do you serve fish on flights?  Have you never seen Airplane! the movie? Anyone who ate the fish was sickened!’  Now, they give you zilch for your time spent answering their post flight questionnaire.  If you are not giving me something in return, why should I waste my time filling out your survey especially when you’re not going to listen to me.  Fish is still served in Business Class.

If you answer Sephora or Home Depot survey’s you can be entered into a raffle to possibly win a $250 gift card.  I have yet to meet a winner of that prize…please tell me if you or someone you know has. I need to feel like it’s a real possibility!

At least Starbucks will add 10 stars to my account when I answer their brief survey’s.  It’s not much, but psychologically I feel I’m getting a little something for my time.  So thank you Starbucks.  Now I only need 115 more stars for that free drink.

Netflix wants my thoughts on SOMM, a documentary about wine stewards preparing for the Master Sommelier exam.  Here I write, “Rent it, you’ll love it!”  But I don’t have the time or energy to navigate the remote and rate it. My head is swimming…what platform was I on that needed me to answer a few additional, brief questions?  Will I ever see the results of these survey’s?

I’m thinking that all of these companies could save quite a bit of money by investing in their people instead of survey’s.  Teach those at the front lines basic communication skills like greeting your guests and welcoming them to your business.

Survey says, NO MORE SURVEY’S!

Gotta go…a social media company just asked me to participate in a focus group and I’ll get a $100 Amazon gift card for my time!


If you liked this blog post, you might enjoy my book Think Before You Ink and Other Cautionary Tales…get your copy in ebook or paperback on Amazon!




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