Easy Customer Experience Lesson: A Tale of Two Surveys

The customer experience surveys at two well known chains, Dunkin’ Donuts and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, teach an easy yet critical customer experience lesson.

I recently had good customer experiences in both yet the post-service online surveys were quite different. Each revealed, as I have written about many times, what the company leaders are thinking.

Easy Customer Experience Lesson: A Tale of Two Surveys Image via: Istock.com

Image Licensed from: Istock.com

Dunkin’ Donuts
The register receipt from Dunkin’ Donuts directs you to complete an experience survey at TellDunkin.com. The questions quickly focus on universal customer expectations:

  1. Did you have to wait in line?
  2. Was your selection available?
  3. How did it taste?
  4. Was the store clean?
  5. What was the value and quality?

There was also a section to easily add comments. They do ask a couple of additional questions more focused on sales like was there an ample assortment of donuts available etc… yet the focus is clearly on what most customers care about.

The Dunkin’ Donuts customer experience survey is quick, easy to complete, and immediately gives you a code to use for a freebee drink or 10% off the next time you visit. Bravo!

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
When I saw a survey offer on my Perkins’ receipt, I expected a similar customer survey experience. I was quite taken aback when I went online and read these questions:

  1. Did the server offer you a choice of at least 2 beverages?
  2. Did the server highlight the special menu?
  3. Did the server offer you a bakery item or dessert?

… and they wanted me to note our server’s name which was printed on the receipt.

Interestingly enough, our server was wonderful because she didn’t follow these guidelines. She greeted us, asked how we were doing and if we wanted to start with something to drink. She never followed a script nor tried to push any particular item. When I asked for a change to one item, she was flexible and made it happen. The food was good, the service easy and caring, and the experience was fabulous.

But Perkins’ customer survey experience was not fabulous. In fact, it is not a customer experience survey at all. It is a report card on whether the employees are doing what the leaders are telling them to do.

Perkins is asking customers to do performance reviews on their employees’ adherence to the prescribed sales approach. The opening questions craftily try to unearth if the servers are selling what Perkins wants them to sell. It is disingenuous and not customer focused.

A great family restaurant focus would shine through questions like:

  • Did we make you feel welcome?
  • Was the food tasty?
  • Do you like the choices on the menu?
  • Is there something you wish we would offer that we don’t?
  • Was the restaurant a clean and inviting place to eat?
  • Will you come back again?
  • Will you tell others to come and eat with us?

Unfortunately, Perkins has stacked the deck toward what they care about yet this stack falls short of what a great customer experience survey does for the customer and the business. This survey says: Perkins’ leaders know better than the customers.

So let’s skip the bravo and and the survey since they don’t want to hear the true voice of the customer.

Easy Customer Experience Lesson
Define a great customer experience from your customer’s perspective — not yours. In fact, you might even consider holding a contest to have customers design your customer experience survey. What better way to find out what they care about when choosing between you and your competition?

Dunkin Donuts customer experience survey focuses on what the customer cares about and Perkins’ survey focuses on what Perkins cares about.

Which approach do you think will yield the most customer focused results?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Post:Customer Experience Leaders, Are Your Metrics Too Loud to Hear the Customer?

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on delivering the ultimate customer service, leading change, employee engagement, and teamwork. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

8 Responses to “Easy Customer Experience Lesson: A Tale of Two Surveys”

  1. Khalid says:

    Great post as usual Kate 🙂

    Feedback is so important in the communication process to provide a better output. I see your point of stating a questionaire thought the experience of the customer not the service provider.

    We have a telecom call center which when you call for help they greet you by the company name every time you call! It just doesn’t feel authentic and I’m really not impressed at all.

    I so much relate to your point 🙂 thanks for your great insight.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Love how you captured the single key point Khalid — the point of the survey communication is ultimately to provide better output. A customer experience survey that is too narrowly defined can only address output on that narrow field.

      Thanks so much for your “add” on this post!

  2. Emma says:

    Great post. I noticed that DD’s survey lends itself to responses that could be provided on a scale, but the Perkins survey requires yes or no answers. Also, DD is about the customer. Perkins is about them.

  3. AM says:

    Hi Kate,

    i aggree on the most of your points, except your customer focused questions – a few of them are only good for the customers in sense of marketing, but mostly to imprecise for the company ( if they want to change somethinmg and want to know what). But there is some other question: Does none of the chains in the state use mobile surveys reachable via QR- or URL-Link? There are a lot on the market, also free ones e.g.: feedbackstr.com. Not only the firms also the customers can see on tools like this, what others think about the same company, product etc.

    Best regards,


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks for your view Ame. You and I do disagree a bit about precision. Metrics represent only a partial and somewhat restricted view of the customer’s reality. Open-ended questions (like those asked during focus groups) capture the customer’s deeper issues that keep them with you or send them looking for a place that captures their loyalty.

      And if we capture the customer’s attention to the point they are willing to complete a survey, why not ask for their ideas while we also ask them for snapshot metrics?

      People who are loyal customers for years and years, go to a place for reasons that metrics can’t always capture. Understanding those reasons can deliver a dimension to a business that all the metrics in the world cannot.

      As for the survey vehicle (mobile etc…) — bring it on!

      Many thanks for adding to this discussion!

  4. Adam says:

    Great comparison Kate, and an excellent lesson!

    You nailed it with “is asking customers to do performance reviews on their employees’ adherence to the prescribed sales approach.” If you want to manage adherence to sales protocols, there are techniques such as using secret shoppers that don’t involve enlisting your customers as a compliance posse. The Dunkin approach puts what is important to the customer first, which should be what is most important to the company as well!

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