Imperfect Ten

A few weeks ago, I took Betsy’s car in to the dealership for some repair work. When they were done, they handed me a customer satisfaction survey, which said the following (paraphrasing):

We consider anything less than a 10 to be a failing grade. If you can’t rate us a 10, please tell us how we can improve.

It’s a nice sentiment – they have high standards, and they want to get better. But the statement really bugs me anyway. Here’s why.

First, there’s no definition for what a 10 means. Is it really good service? Astoundingly good service? The best service I’ve ever had at a car dealership? The best service I’ve ever had anywhere? The best service I can hypothetically imagine? (That last definition, by the way, could lead to other problems.)

I have no idea what a 10 means, and I’m not sure they do, either. So their statement is like saying “We are absolutely committed to hitting the bullseye, which is…somewhere.”

But let’s say we did have a definition, something like “extremely good service,” which is still vague and arbitrary but better than nothing.

Well, for starters, “extremely good” is inherently subjective, so the dealership is considering itself a failure if it doesn’t meet the highest expectations of a wide variety of conflicting quality scales. There’s no way to make everyone very happy (or even a little bit happy). They’re guaranteed to fail.

But even if getting a 10 from everyone were theoretically possible, it would still be ridiculous. Think how much time and money and effort and preparation and training it would cost to make everyone’s experience extraordinary. Think how exhausting that would be for the staff. All to ensure that they don’t “fail” by getting a 9 from me.

You can’t run a dealership that way. I wouldn’t even want them to.

I realize I’m being a little crazy here. I’m dissecting and over-analyzing an innocuous statement. I get that.

I guess the statement just bothers me because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s disingenuous. It puts me, the customer, on a pedestal that I didn’t ask for and that wouldn’t be possible anyway. Just fix the car, and I’ll pay you. That’s the extent of the relationship I want.

Rant over. Next week I’ll complain about how my sofa is excessively comfortable, and you can feel sorry for me about that, too.

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2 responses to “Imperfect Ten

  1. So you could rate them by a scale meaningful to you and tell them that they can improve by replacing their ridiculous and arbitrary rating system with something more objective and meaningful.

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