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elbanditoroso's avatar

Answering one of those "how did our employee do" web surveys - how honest should I be?

Asked by elbanditoroso (32764points) May 29th, 2023

I was on the phone this afternoon with one of the big hotel chains to make a multi-room reservation and use my points. (Something that you really need to talk to a human for if it’s the least bit complex.)

The woman at <hotel chain> was clearly not a native English speaker. She did accomplish what I asked her to do, but at least four times I had to ask her to repeat what she was saying and say it more clearly.

About 20 minutes after I got off the call, I received one of those surveys “How was your interaction with <name>? Can you rate your experience?” – I get these from the bank, even from the pizza place sometimes.

I answered the survey – 4 stars out of 5 – and in the comments area I made the point that having clear English speakers would be a benefit to customer service and satisfaction. I wasn’t rude, didn’t complain, just commented.

My question:

Was I out of line? Am I being rude to non-native speakers by commenting on their inability to be understood? Or am I doing what the company wants – they ask questions about their service and I reply honestly.

I’m sort of torn down the middle on this. What’s your take?

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21 Answers

Acrylic's avatar

100% honesty is always appropriate. That’s why they ask.

tedibear's avatar

I think you did the right thing being honest on the survey. The company needs to know that not having employees who speak English clearly enough is detrimental to their business. Hopefully it will lead them to provide extended language training to their non-native speakers.

I think the same thing would apply to any other language where you’re dealing with a non-native speaker.

LadyMarissa's avatar

They won’t make any changes if they don’t know there’s a problem!!! So as to not get her in trouble, I’d probably have said that she was very polite & tried hard, but I had a really difficult time understanding her instructions. That way you are saying that she was doing her job well, but the company really needs to reconsider the language barrier. Then I would have ended with…assuming she did her job properly, I’ll be happy in the end. That I can’t rate until I see how things go. I do that to Amazon all the time. Almost before I get the phone hung up, I’m receiving an email asking me to rate how satisfied I am. ALL the reps promise me the moon & some actually give it to me. I CANNOT rate that service until it happens & I don’t!!! I usually respond that if the rep does as promised I’ll once again be satisfied. If not, I’ll be very unhappy. I then hit send & save the email until I know the end result. At that point, I reply with my REAL rating either telling them what a great job the rep did or how dissatisfied I am. I know they pass these on to the rep because I usually receive another email either thanking me for my kind words or apologizing for letting me down. Assuming they did well, I give them a glowing report. Bad work gets a brutally honest complaint!!!

I have a friend from Brazil who works for one of the major hotels chain. She works hard to continually improve her English. According to the manager, she is one of her best workers. She’s always calling me to ask me what a customer meant when they spoke in English slang. When we’re in the same room I have NO trouble understanding her; but, on the phone, it’s a bitch. I sometimes have to remind her to speak slower so I can understand what she’s saying. She watches a lot of TV to learn better, clearer English.

Kropotkin's avatar

For workers, always give max scores.

Anything less can cause them potential hassle with managers and affect performance related pay.

They are not going to start employing articulate speakers just for your benefit and just because of some feedback you gave on a form.

JLeslie's avatar

I would be honest.

I’m great with accents, but when I feel they aren’t understanding what I really need or their dialect is way way off I say something. If their accent was so strong I can’t understand them I also would say so.

Sometimes it matters what time of day what country you get routed to.

I don’t remember if you are a Spanish speaker, but if so, choose that line. Most of them are fluent in English, but sometimes you have to stick to Spanish. Typically, the Spanish lines have less wait.

flutherother's avatar

If they have a pleasant manner and try to be helpful, I give them full marks every time because we are human and the entity that employs them is not.

canidmajor's avatar

Any company large enough to have “points” will very likely not care at all about what you say, only that the employee didn’t get the 5 stars, and will probably be reprimanded and it will go into some record. When you say “her accent was too thick” they interpret “don’t put immigrants in this position”.

You were mildly inconvenienced, and your objective was realized; she may suffer some consequences. Always give the 5 stars unless the employee’s behavior was egregious.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor It’s rarely immigrants on the English line, it’s Asia.

canidmajor's avatar

OK, so what? Then it is even more unlikely that the chain will change any policies concerning foreign call centers.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor I like to think most companies care about their customer service. The only way they know customers are frustrated or why customers are leaving is if consumers speak up. The company probably pays for the feedback. It’s not that all foreign call center help is a problem, but sometimes it’s very bad and very frustrating.

Here’s an article from 5 years ago. I didn’t search harder for a more recent one, but I think it hasn’t changed much in 5 years.

elbanditoroso's avatar

just to point out that being in the US doesn’t mean that the speaker will have good command of English.

General observation: looking at the answers above, they seem almost evenly split between those saying that the company should be aware of my experience, and the group that says I should have stayed silent for fear that the employee would be disciplined or fired.

So you see my issue. I doubt that <hotel chain> will change anything as a result of my comments. But I think they should be aware of issues.

jca2's avatar

I don’t usually answer those surveys but when I do, I’m totally honest.

I’m sure they pay for the surveys to be done, @JLeslie because it requires staff to formulate the survey, read the responses and then respond if it requires a response and communicate to the staff what the results were. Either they contract with a company to do that or they do it themselves, which would mean staff doing that work.

jca2's avatar

As far as the issue of an accent goes, I don’t think that every person is made to do every job. I never could have considered being a police officer or anything that requires physical stamina, because I was not in good shape and could not run far, never could, probably never will. It wasn’t something I would be upset about, if just was what it was. I have a bad ankle injury from a car accident, from about 20 years ago, so I know anything where I am stressing my ankle out (anything with a lot of bending and lifting), I won’t be able to do.

Maybe if a person has an accent and is answering calls from mostly English speakers, that job is not for them. I’m not anti Hispanic because my father is Hispanic and has an accent that is hard to understand, but I would think that maybe he wasn’t the best to answer calls such as described by the OP.

Maybe the survey is something that will alert the company to look for when hiring.

On the other hand, if most people could understand the person at the call center, and the OP is one of a few that has trouble, then the company will know from the survey responses that the accent doesn’t bother most people.

If the comapny didn’t want to know customers’ honest opinions, they wouldn’t ask.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso Of Course the person might be in the US, but often times it is an out of country call center. When I feel a customer service person doesn’t understand the help I need I sometimes ask for a person in North America, and there have been times they say to me I can’t switch you to North America, but I will get a supervisor.

Most of the time service is fine no matter what part of the world is taking my call, and even middle of the road American Midwesterners right her in the US with very neutral standard American English accents can give terrible incompetent service.

I don’t want people to be fired, but if they can’t do the job they need a different job. @jca2 made a good point, a couple of complaints isn’t going to get someone fired, but 50 probably will get them fired or moved to another job. Maybe they can’t do the American line, but can do the calls coming in from Europe. Maybe they need more training about the particular product and just don’t know the jargon used associated with the product they are servicing.

Believe me, I can imagine myself in another country trying to work in another language, and I think it is incredible what some people struggle through, and I admire it.

Some customers hear a foreign accent on the other end of the phone and are immediately pissed off, I guarantee you that is not me. My life is full of foreign accents here in the US both among my friends and coworkers my entire life. Not being able to perform a job well hurts the company.

chyna's avatar

I was sent a survey about 6 months ago from my garage company. I generally ignore these or give all 5 stars. Well at this point I was very aggravated that they just threw my garbage bin down without a thought as to who had to pick it up.
So I told them I was elderly, 5’1, which made the garbage bin my height, and had a very hard time getting it to standing position, especially in the rain or snow.
It is now never laying down. Always upright and easy to roll back to my house.
Sometimes stating your issues helps.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m always honest.

My husband is rated by clients and if it’s less than perfect, he fixes the issue if possible. Can’t fix it if you don’t know.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think your response was perfect.

@JLeslie…..Asians can be immigrants.

kritiper's avatar

Honesty is always the best policy.
Some things are better left unsaid.
Exercise discretion!

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Of course. But when you can tell it’s a call center by the noise in the background and knowing the Philippines, India, and some other parts of Asia are some of the top call center locations for English speakers, we can put it together and guess correctly the majority of the time.

I go to the Spanish line a lot and I have no idea if they are in America or Latin America.

raum's avatar

Whether or not you spoke correctly depends on what you want the impact of your words to have.

ragingloli's avatar

Unless something egregious occurs, always full score. No class treason in this house.

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