Love, love me do. Pleeaassee!
“How was your experience in men’s underwear?” The email asked. “Were you a) delighted with your purchase b) kind of giddy c) blasé d) not so giddy or e) totally disenfranchised? Your immediate response is requested.”
This was about the tenth follow-up I had received from recent shopping excursions. Seems like every time I buy something these days within a matter of minutes I get an email or text wanting to know more about my experience so that they can use me as free marketing, though they claim they are doing it so they can better serve me in the future. “Rest assured,” they stated, “your purchase of today’s active senior, double stretchy waistband, extra room in the seat, boxer briefs in the ‘towering columns of the world’ motif will only be shared with our ten thousand or so affiliates.” This was followed by about six paragraphs of disclaimers in 97 different languages and a large submit button.
And if you ignore the request to better serve you in the future and for all eternity, you will often receive a follow-up email or text. Sometimes even a pre-recorded call.
“We are sorry to inform you that the sales clerk that waited on you has been fired because you have not responded favorably about your recent undergarments adventure. Please don’t make us deport their entire family. FILL OUT THE FORM. Thank you for your continued patronage.”
I don’t mind helping out the retail world. Really. I used to work in a photo shop and camera store and we were always grateful to hear a from a happy customer… positive or negative.
But today feedback has taken on a life of its own. Recently we bought a new car and as we were filling out the paperwork, our sales rep was typing frantically on her phone. Another sales rep sharing her office was also on his phone. He ran out and did several selfies in front of an SUV and then began double-thumbing a message arching his salesman eyebrows and flashing his buy-now smile as he went.
“Excuse me,” Pat said to our saleslady. “I have a question about financing?”
“Almost done with my Instagram post,” she said. “Say, do you guys want to be in it? You know, the extremely happy customers, on location, shaking hands or kissing my cheeks or something?”
“Do we get paid a modeling fee?” I asked.
“Can you photoshop away some wrinkles,” Pat asked. “And take off fifteen pounds?”
“Hm. Maybe we’ll just finish our purchase then.” There was silence, followed by nervous laughter, then more frantic typing. “OMG,” I figured she must be writing. “Maybe Mom was right about finishing college and becoming a foreign diplomat.”
Turns out, the car salespeople told us, that it was a large part of their job to be constantly posting dealership info on social media. “Free lube job with purchase of $50,000 car,” they squeezed out. “We are wheeling and dealing,” they squealed. “Don’t miss out on our once a year sale-o-rama, now through summer,” they exclaimed with little car icons.
Sales people no longer strive to get their photo on the breakroom wall as employee of the month. Now they must be influencers with thousands of followers or they don’t last a month. “We Tweet our customers right.” “We Pinterest their interests.” “We like like like them.”
Even while we were sitting there waiting for them to bring out our new car, I got yet another text. “Thank you, Ernie Witham, for your recent purchase of our multi-guano bonsai fertilizer and our kills-all herbicide, insecticide nematicide, molluscicide, piscicide, avicide, rodenticide, bactericide, insect repellent, animal repellent, antimicrobial, and fungicide. Fill out our simple eleven-part survey and receive a free box of rubber gloves and designer respirator.” Wow! I began pecking away.
Five minutes later we left the dealership with our shiny new vehicle and got a text reminding us that anything less that an “excellent” rating would be “REAL BAD.” She was a nice person and did help me figure out all the electronics on the new car, but later that day we got an email from finance that we hadn’t done the paperwork right. We mentioned this on the follow-up satisfaction request. Our salesperson is probably working in Iceland now. Sorry.