Doug Garnett’s Blog


At Walgreens: An Amazing Abuse Of the Customer Satisfaction Survey

At Walgreens:  An Amazing Abuse Of the Customer Satisfaction Survey

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about how fed up I am with customer satisfaction surveys (link here). Truth is that companies are out of control – thinking it’s the job of consumers to fill out a constant stream of surveys.


So I’m going to pick on Walgreens here – not because they are the worst. But because I have recent Walgreens experiences that show how messed up this constant survey abuse is.

What Happened at Walgreens. At the time of my prior post, Skye Weadick sent me a photo of what she saw at one drive-up pharmacy window at a Walgreen’s. (See the photo of the sign at the drive-thru pharmacy inviting drivers to fill out a survey—inside the store!)

The desperation evident in that sign seemed bad enough. Really? Asking customers to come around, park, and walk in to the store to fill out a survey?

Except… I was at a Walgreen’s this week – a different one – and heard an amazing employee discussion with two people in line.

He gave them their receipt and pointed out the link to the survey printed on the bottom. Then…

…He carefully explained there is a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best) but that only numbers above 9 count.
…They asked for his name so he could get credit (nice customers).
…He observed his name didn’t matter because the survey results would rate the whole store.
And he explained that his personal bonus depended on the store getting all 9′s.

It would be great if this was an aberration. Maybe it is for Walgreens. But I’ve been told fundamentally the same thing in quite a few stores and across a wide range of sales situations.

I do not condemn the employee – although what he did was quite bush-league. But we should save our rage for that portion of Walgreen’s management that created an environment this dysfunctional.

What Purpose Do these Survey’s Serve? My guess is that these surveys at Walgreens have morphed to the point where they are about making management happy – no longer about learning things that would make customers happy. And it shouldn’t need to be mentioned that ANY survey results from an environment like this should be thrown out – there is no truth in them.

If Walgreens cares about customer satisfaction (which I believe they do):

1. They will deliver better satisfaction if employees focus on DELIVERING customer service – not creating good survey responses.
2. They will deliver better satisfaction if employee morale is positive. But employee morale cannot be maintained if your staff is panicked about losing their bonuses due to poor survey responses.

This situation has enough dysfunction in it to write a PhD thesis. And the truth is that by creating this environment, they’ve already lost the short-term customer satisfaction battle.

Are Satisfaction Surveys the New “Office Space” Flair? In the movie “Office Space”, Jennifer Aniston’s character fights to wear enough “flair” to satisfy her manager & keep her job (video link here). Satisfaction surveys are becoming similarly pathetic attempts to impose service enthusiasm through bureaucratic rules.

That said, I love Walgreen’s because of their product – led by pharmacy, health, cosmetics, and photo then well supported by a smart merchandising. And they support this with a savvy combination of well chosen basics but keep the store fresh with rotating sets of seasonal goods.

It’s disappointing to encounter this broken machine in a store I really like. Just imagine how bad the brand impact from a situation like this would be at a store that didn’t offer Walgreens advantages.

Copyright 2013 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved

Categories:   Advertising, Business and Strategy, Communication, Consumer research, Innovation, Marketing Research, Retail, Retail marketing


Sorry, comments are closed for this item.