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Tuesday January 6, 2015

The feedback frenzy that is yet to hit Spain

Many online services ask customers to offer feedback

In a British supermarket the other day a sales assistant handed me a voucher and urged me to go online to leave feedback about her level of service. Only moments earlier the same thing had happened in a chemist and at one of the main café chains. All offered incentives of one kind or another.

Curiously British and American online suppliers of products and services also seem to be bombarding me with questionnaires of late, seeking my approval and ratings for just about everything. These have included book purchases, travel services, second-hand buys and mobile phone, gift and flower delivery services. I’m a great believer in offering praise where it’s due but I do find this constant craving for feedback rather trying. To me it smacks of attention seeking and insecurity rather than efficiency and encroaches on my personal time. Shouldn’t I expect a company automaticallyto offer excellent service without having to give it a pat on the back for, well, doing its job? And how much can one trust feedback when the promise of a prize draw might sway a recipient to leave exaggerated plaudits?

The point is that whenever I’m happy with a service I always take time to freely offer my appreciation without tiresome prompts. Years ago when a new manager at a Tesco supermarket personally walked my shopping round to my home after I’d made a complaint at the store, I wrote to the company’s chief executive praising his initiative. Weeks later I bumped into the hero who joyously told me that he’d been commended by his regional manager and was in line for promotion. More recently I wrote to the managing director of Clarks Shoes to heap praise on an excellent sales assistant at the firm’s Oxford Street store. I did the same when an employee at Caffè Nero helped a confused elderly lady who had wandered into the store off the street with no memory of who she was. The assistant kindly sat her down with a pot of tea on the house and telephoned for medical help while making sure she was warm and safe.

Happily in Majorca I have never been asked to complete a survey or report about how helpful or useful a service or individual has proven to be. As I know many of the staff serving in local shops and cafés in my town and a good many tradesmen too, I would find it peculiar if any started asking me in needy or Uriah Heap fashion to rate them. The only exception to the rule is Telefonica, the telephone company, that bizarrely dials one’s number after an operator has assisted with a problem and an automated message in Spanish requests a rating out of nine. Heaven knows how expats with little or no Spanish deal with those calls.

So I hope that this pesky new trend will not catch on any time soon in Majorca because I enjoy spontaneously offering praise and thanking members of my local community whenever they go the extra mile. There’s no artifice, contrivance, nudging or heckling e-mails and promises of discounts or lucky draws for often hurried, insincere, instant feedback. Surely as a service provider it would be better to receive unsolicited compliments or remain rating-free than damned with faint praise?

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