What eyeliner should I use while trimming weeds?

by Tom Davis

If You Will Not Ask The Right Questions - Why Bother to Ask At All?

We have all been in this situation: visiting a website we get a popup window asking if we would give the site owner feedback on your experience using their website. I like a good survey that tries to uncover the hidden thinking of an audience. But alas, most of these surveys are just a waste of time for both me and the site owner.

This past weekend I was visiting the Black & Decker website to see if I could learn why my string trimmer (week whacker) just stopped working. It consumes mass quantities of string and just I had started using it when the last bit of string flew off the reel. After returning from Home Depot with $16 worth of line I inserted the new reel and started back to work. The machine simply would not function. The electric motor was frozen. Just that simple. But my frustrations with string trimmers is another post. Back to the website. When I got to the Black & Decker site I was presented with a request to take a survey after I am finished using the site. I agree.

Hoping to find some insight into what I could do at the Black and Decker website, I was able to enter the correct model numbers to arrive at a page about my trimmer. It was not simple, how can there be so many similar models? It seems like keeping track of the models would be more costly than engineering a decent machine in the first place. Sorry.... the rant is strong in me.

The Black & Decker site offers no help, but they do want my help... maybe.

Motor won't turn? Call a "factory" service center. They provide a handy list of addresses no where near me with no information about when they might be open - but I call anyway. No answer. So basically, Black & Decker is saying: "The machine only costs $50 so just buy a new one." I think: "OK, but I doubt I would be another one of yours. Based on the concept of 'branding', yours has not passed the test." (See this video for a good explanation of why.

Oh yeah, the survey.

So I am done with the Black & Decker website. Then the survey pops up. OK, let's talk. But this survey just asks some simple multiple choice questions that look like they are fishing for happy visitors. I clearly was not... on several levels. But I plugged along until I arrived at this screen:

Way to go Black and Decker

OK... That Tears It...

Was this survey for me or for a reader of Instyle magazine? Frankly the questions were that generic. For the life of me I cannot figure out what Black & Decker was looking for. It certainly was not my feelings about the site. I would like to have told them that they could have saved money trying to list "factory" service centers that don't even have voice mail. (Even some guy operating from his garage using his cell phone would have voice mail.)

I am sure Black & Decker marketing had many meetings about how they plan to "engage" website visitors, but this survey never even asked why I was there.  In the end, they did not even proof the survey they copied from some other site. I can hear it now, the agency says "Let's do a survey to see how well the site is doing." Then the AE writes an intern an email, "Put a copy of the survey from InStyle magazine's site on the Black & Decker site - they are kind of similar. Oh.... be sure to change out the logo."

If you want me to care, you have to care.

The lesson here is that companies are try to get customers to "care" about their brands. In fact, when it comes to customers with problems, most companies duck.  Which I guess is business as usual. They spend a lot of marketing dollars, but they squander their brands value as they seem to go about it all wrong. Black and Decker has a Facebook page. But no way to talk to a customer.

It is all too bad. Brands like Black & Decker are practically in my DNA, going back to my childhood when I would help my father fixing things around the house using a trusty Black & Decker drill. But today these companies are so distracted with the money end of the business that they forget the product. Often they drive a good brand into the ground. I am talking to you Maytag. (BTW, our new LG washer sings to us.)