Surveys - 11/10/05
The other day I received a survey from my health insurance company, asking me to rate my satisfaction with their services.

Now, surveys and I go way back. My father has a small survey/consulting firm back in Minneapolis, so as a high-schooler (and, sadly, a recent college graduate), I spent many summer hours working for him designing, mailing, sorting, and interpreting exactly this type of survey. Needless to say, I was familiar with it; it was like a former McDonald's employee getting a hamburger in the mail. OK, maybe not exactly like that, but you get me.

Anyway, aside from being able to predict nearly every question on the survey, I also knew exactly where the survey was going to go once I sent it off. The multiple-choice responses would be scanned by a computer, and any open-ended comments would be transcribed by a low-paid human... possibly one related to the owner of the survey company.

There are two good ways to write open-ended comments. The first is not to write any - it makes my job easier, nobody reads them anyway, and they're usually boring as hell and just some lame rant about your boss. The second good type of open-ended responses are the funny ones. I once received a survey covered in profanity about a certain supervisor named Jim "[expletive deleted]" O'Neal. Another survey from a railroad engineer came back as a pile of ashes inside an envelope: an apparent not-so-subtle metaphor for the employee's feelings about the company. Another survey came back soaked in some yellow liquid, which wasn't so much funny as it was extremely gross.

I guess those last two weren't exactly open-ended comments, but the point I'm trying to make is that memorable open-ended comments are much more welcome to a typing office-monkey than dull ones. And so I made my best effort.

Please provide any comments regarding your satisfaction with your recent customer service contact.
Toaster Monkey Budapest.

Are their any additional comments you'd like to make regarding your satisfaction with Blue Cross Blue Shield overall?
I guess I'm kind of wondering about your logo. And your name, for that matter: do you really need to be both Blue Cross and Blue Shield? I mean, I assume it's because two companies merged together which both coincidentally had the word "Blue" in their title (maybe that's why they thought about merging), but couldn't you just pick which name you liked better, and go with it? I vote for Blue Shield. It sounds so nice and protective, and avoids stepping on any non-Christian toes with whatever religious implications "Cross" might have. At the very least, could you abbreviate into Blue Cross and/or Shield? Also, why blue? Why not mauve? I've always liked mauve.

Back to the logo, is that a picture of a snake eating a Pez dispenser on the Shield logo? Doesn't he know he can just tilt that head back and get straight to the yummy tablets of sugary goodness that shoot out of the neck? Maybe he likes to eat plastic. And the other one - that's either a guy getting vivisectioned on a stretch-rack, or else you're blatantly ripping off Leo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. While I'm sure he appreciates your being a fan, you just don't want to F with Leo's lawyers.

Just one more reason to go with Blue Shield. Sorry, Cross.

I had to go deep into the margin to write all that, but it was worth it knowing that in 2 to 4 weeks, somebody in an office in Minnesota will get a little relief from their long day of transcribing supervisor tirades. They'll scratch their head in confusion. Then they'll laugh. Then they'll show the rest of their tiny office, and work will stop for a minute or two while everybody has a good chuckle over what the hell is wrong with some Caucasian male from California who still has Minnesota insurance. And then they'll go back to transcribing supervisor tirades.

And no, I'm sure it wasn't my dad's company that made the survey. It was a competitor.



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