It's India's business to know your rating — of everything, says Kevin Pilley.
I left that lift in India with so many questions still unanswered.
Questions like: "Based on your experience would you recommend my lift to a friend or colleague?"
And: "How often do you use a lift? Once a year? Daily? Or is this your first time in a lift?"
Let me survey you.
Do you suffer from bad feedback? I do. Especially when I go to India. It's the world capital of feedback.
You can't go anywhere there without being asked to participate in a customer-satisfaction survey. Your every thought is warmly welcomed and every opinion studiously monitored for training and service quality purposes.
You can't do a thing in India, a place I love and which has always had its own endearing logic, without being grilled. And the grilling is usually about things that seem inconsequential to you - but might be life-changing to others.
What do you say to someone who asks you as soon as you step into a lift: "Are you experiencing any problems or concerns during your stay in my lift, sir?"
Which is what happened to me recently in a hotel in west India. I was in Gujarat, Gandhi's home state. Where Guest Is God. More than perhaps anywhere.
We got to my floor and the liftman, showing me through the door, gave me a textbook Indian head wobble, the corporate humble smile and then asked: "Was your journey satisfactory, sir? How did my lift perform?"
All I could think to say in reply was "Great. Thank you." I hoped he would finish work for the day and return home, knowing he had completed all the tasks and performed all the duties expected of him and achieved all the goals management had set him.
He wasn't looking for a tip. He was just trying to keep his job.
Later, I used the lift again.
"What is the purpose of your visit , sir?" he asked.
"To get to the ground floor," I replied, off template.
He was unfazed, advising me I would have "the greatest enjoyable comfort" if I stood on the left of the lift when descending and on the right while ascending.
When the doors parted he said - and I am not making this up - "How would you rate my elevator on an overall basis compared to all other elevators you have employed?"
I was speechless. Devoid of immediate feedback. "How would my lift be made more likeable?"
I got outside and half expected the first beggar I passed to say, "Thank you for reaching out to me", and then hand me a survey to complete.
This trend is not unique to India. But it seems burlesqued there. Out of all proportion. But done with good intentions. To improve service and give the people in personnel something to do.
And gauge the satisfaction of the customer experience management software team. The ones who don't ever meet people.
In the restaurant in the same hotel as I waited for a menu, the maitre d' crept up to ask: "Are you finding my banqueting hall exceptional? We are offering extreme hospitality."
All said in that "Your-input-is-greatly-appreciated" modern manner.
At Mumbai airport, to fill in time, I filled in a survey requesting me to mark the cleanliness and friendliness of the departure lounge toilet cleaners. Poor/Fair/Excellent/ Others (Please specify). Thank you for your business.
When I used the hotel lift for the last time, the same gentleman namaskar-ed me, saying it had been "a genuine honour" to serve me and that he would greatly appreciate me sharing my judgments, suggestions and insights with the GM and on TripAdvisor. Also on the form he provided.
"What did I do really well?"
I owed him a reply. To be helpful. And honest. Without being too patronising.
Or suggesting I should have used the stairs.
"Everything. No mixed feelings at all. Exemplary. My choice to use your lift was a wise one. I enjoyed every moment. I loved it.
"You are the most memorable and professional lift attendant I have ever encountered."
It was true.
"Because you understand my service needs. You should be recognised as a valued employee. It was a pleasure and delight."
His eyebrows began to quirk as I continued.
"I only hope that I met your expectations. I constantly strive to maintain a high standard of courteous and attentive service to all hotel employees."
When I got home an email was waiting.
From the hotel.
"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you better. We request you to kindly complete the survey on the link provided.
"Please ignore this if you have already given your comments on the guest feedback form during your visit."