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I don’t write restaurant or store or product reviews. I never submitted to Yelp or Google. It isn’t that I don’t have an opinion. I’ve something to say about everything. I usually bitch and complain. I plan on always writing the review. I take pictures in restaurants, label the pictures. But I never actually write the review.

Instead, I complete all the customer-surveys, I receive from companies. That is my way of sharing my opinion. Few times, the companies have asked if they can call me and discuss. I denied. Many asked if they can publish my answers under my name. I refused. Once I received an email from my local Target store manager wanting to discuss my views on his store. He even offered monetary benefit. I never replied.

I answer the customer-surveys because I hope the companies’ conducting them will directly hear from me. Surveys offering sweepstakes don’t interest me. They want only to collect my personal information, so they can send gazillion promotional offers and emails. Years ago, I would complete the customer surveys at the bottom of payment receipts. They offered a slight discount on the next product if purchased within a certain timeframe. I barely used the discounts, because I never went back to buy from the same store. And those customer-surveys left me unsatisfied.

I know, I know, there is something going on with me. Most of the world considers answering customer-surveys a nuisance. And I look for satisfaction in answering customer-surveys!

My most comprehensive questionnaire. My husband surprised me with a 23andMe kit. After I set-up my profile, I received emails asking me to participate in research studies. I had nothing to lose, so I starting answering questions. Minutes turned into hours; hours turned into long-long hours until my eyes dried-up, but I kept on going. Answering the questions helped me understand my own habits, medical history, dietary habits, my choices, lifestyle etc. At the start of every new section, a one-liner informed my standing in the overall percentile. Last, I had answered 92% more than other users.

The most hateful survey. My happy place is the Container Store. If I ever hit a jackpot, I will buy every organizing thing the store offers. Of course, I was keen to share my opinions. Like most customer-surveys, I thought it would take fifteen minutes at the most. It wasn’t the length of the survey that irked me. It was the set-up of the questionnaire. It had the most unethical and biased questions. It listed twenty stores and asked I checked the stores I usually shopped at. I shopped at only four of the stores listed. But the survey wouldn’t let me move forward until I picked at least six stores. So even though I didn’t shop at the other stores, I was required to pick something. This was the same technique for all the questions. I took me more than thirty minutes to complete; I didn’t visit the store for months.

The most engaging survey. I buy all my activewear from Athleta. They don’t inundate me with a questionnaire after every visit. But whenever they send something, it is interesting. They share the pictures of the new designs of their upcoming season. They ask not only if I would buy them or not, but they ask also what I would willingly pay for them. They are smart. While taking my opinion, they show me the preview of the new items. It is a good marketing technique. As their customer, I feel important that they want my opinion and at the same time, I am tempted to order the new clothes. I admit that I’ve been sucked into buying things I didn’t immediately need.

My most bizarre experience. I’ve been buying my shoes from DSW since I can remember. And like most women, I HAVE shoes in different colors and designs. I’ve the loyalty card; I’ve the promotional crap. So, once I got their customer-survey, I thought I can shape the shoe game. I know, crazy thinking. But then, aren’t I changing corporations with my opinions. Anyway, DSW’s first question asked about my gender and second demanded to know my age group. And after that, I got a message “Thank you so much for your interest in DSW Insiders, but the groups you belong to are now full.”

This was an epiphany. Now I belong to an age-group that is not the target demographic. Not all companies design and cater to my generation. I think my age bracket is right for Crate & Barrel and Nordstrom, but not for DSW or Payless.

But my teaching lesson. I don’t have to answer all the surveys. That if they take longer than I expected, I should close them without completing them. No one is going penalize me.

My nagging question. Do companies even use the data from these customer-surveys? And what is the integrity of the customer-survey? (I took a semester on Survey Data Collection.) How truthful am I? I know I exaggerate and understate as needed.

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