The best -- and worst -- of bank customer surveys

Bank sign on building

Because I have multiple accounts at multiple banks, I’m always being asked to participate in customer surveys.

After satisfying myself that (if by phone) it isn’t a stealth sales call or (if by email) doesn’t involve phishing or a virus transmission, I try to cooperate.

But, being primarily a CD investor, most survey questions don't apply to me.

The best surveys are those that simply try to find out who I am, in order, I suppose, for the bank to more accurately identify its customer base (which, hopefully, consists of people just like me who want higher CD rates).

For example, I recently responded to a "New Member Survey" from Alliant Credit Union.

It asked 11 questions, including my age, products and services I used (savings and certificate accounts), and what’s most important to me (I checked "high rates on deposits," naturally).

It also asked me to rate my overall experience with Alliant (I checked "positive").

Spurning the offer to add my own comments, I completed the survey in about a minute.

Other surveys aren’t so easy.

I particularly dislike those asking me to rate (on some scale) each and every bank product or service.

Like the telephone survey about MetLife Bank.

I tried to short-circuit the process by telling the lady, up front, that I only had certificates of deposit, but she was determined to follow the script, so I had to repeatedly respond "don’t know" when asked about ATM machines, check privileges, reverse mortgages and so forth.

Of course, she asked about insurance; nothing, though, about Snoopy (and I’m a beagle owner!).

Equally frustrating is the call requesting me to rate my last customer service contact.

By the time I’m asked, a week or more has gone by, and I can’t remember whether the experience was good or bad.

Nationwide Bank has solved this problem by having its customer service representatives transfer you to the survey immediately after you finish your business with them.

But the fundamental problem with all surveys is that they’re usually conducted by outside marketing firms that couldn't care less about you.

Like many other things, the task of discovering what customers want -- and whether they’re happy -- has been outsourced.

Instead of hiring an impersonal research service to contact me, I’d prefer that the bank’s CEO call me directly.

I’d enjoy that survey.

Alternatively, the bank could just deposit $5 in my account -- for my precious time.

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