I know my way around fast food drive-thrus. In fact, you could say I’m something of an expert. I’m not sure how many burgers, burritos and chicken sandwiches I’ve ordered through the years, but it’s a lot — too many — and I have the body type and health issues to prove it.

I will order a salad … occasionally … but only if the word “taco” appears immediately before the word “salad.”

And speaking of taco salads, Taco Bell is one of my favorite fast food places. They have a recipe for success ­— provide tasty Tex-Mex food at convenient outlets and reasonable prices, and people will beat a path around your doors to accept food through a window. It works, and it’s worked for a long time with very little change.

So when my drive-thru experience was a little different than usual, I noticed right away.

As the young drive-thru attendant handed me my receipt, she said in a particularly lackluster manner, “Please fill out our survey. We’re looking for ‘highly satisfieds’ tonight.”

I’m guessing that “highly satisfied” translates into 5-out-of-5 on the Taco Bell customer service scoring system, but I haven’t filled out the survey yet and probably won’t. There’s just not enough incentive for me to do so and not enough prospect of things changing even if I do go online to fill it out. After all, I used to fill them out all the time, and I saw no improvement at all.

So, when the cashier/attendant/teen-with-limited-career-prospects told me they were “looking for ‘highly satisfieds’ tonight,” I smiled and asked myself some questions:

“Highly satisfied” — where does that rank in the hierarchy of customer service? It doesn’t sound like it should be the top mark, does it?

“Tonight” — Really? Just tonight? What about when I was here last week? Were you looking for “barely tolerables” that night? Aren’t you looking for top marks every night? If not, why not?

And why should I fill out your survey? What’s in it for me? Do I get free food or will you be faster next time … or at least remember to put the salsa in with my taco salad? Do you have any idea how bad the taco salad is without salsa? I’m definitely not “highly satisfied” when there’s no salsa for my taco salad. “Highly irritated” is more like it.

As you can see, I ask a lot of questions.

If it sounds like I’m being critical of Taco Bell, that’s not my intention. I “make a run for the border” quite often, and I like the food. That the staff at Taco Bell rarely rises to the level of “highly satisfied” isn’t a big deal, either. Chick-Fil-A stands head and shoulders above the other fast food chains when it comes to hiring high schoolers, but Taco Bell will keep my business … at least until there’s a Chick-Fil-A between me and the nearest Taco Bell.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t fill out the Taco Bell online survey.

  • First, I’ve done it before and saw no change. This did not surprise me, but neither did it inspire me to keep filling them out.
  • Second, there’s not enough in it for me — not enough of a discount coupon, not a big enough free taco, not a drawing for a nice gift card or whatever.
  • Third, I felt they weren’t asking the right questions (and shame on me for not checking if they’ve improved in this area). I think they should be asking questions like, “Is this Taco Bell restaurant your nearest fast food option?” Now that would be telling! If I owned Taco Bell, I’d want to know that!

Finally, it’s kind of a big “ask.” Taco Bell wants me to get my food, drive home, eat and then go to the computer and fill out their survey. Even for someone like me who spends days in front of a computer, that’s a lot to ask — and it goes back to my second reason above. There’s no natural flow from my purchase to your survey and not enough in it for me. As a result, I’m betting that most of the people who fill out the survey are either more than “highly satisfied” or they were “highly dissatisfied.”

Now let’s change gears and bring this home to the fishing tackle business.

What are you doing to find out what your customers think of you and your business? Where does your system break down or have issues?

And don’t tell me it’s seamless; I won’t believe you.

About The Author

Ken Duke
Managing Editor

Ken Duke is the Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer Magazine, most recently serving as Senior Editor of B.A.S.S. Publications (2005-14). Before that he served as B.A.S.S.’ Senior Publicist (2004-05) and as an editor with Game & Fish Publications (1999-2004). He is the author of two books on bass fishing and has been published in more than 50 regional and national outdoor magazines.

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