As I blogged earlier this week, I recently switched wireless carriers. This afternoon, my old carrier phoned me to conduct a customer satisfaction survey on my experience with their customer service representative. I answered five minutes of questions regarding my level of satisfaction with my phone call – not the wireless carrier's phone service.

The survey process was outsourced to a third-party who was completely uninterested in the reason that I called customer service initially. (The reason that I called was to confirm that my service contract had been canceled.)

Here are some of the questions that they asked:

(each question was prefaced by (and, yes, they said this phrase about ten times) "On February 22nd, 2005 at 3:34pm PST during your call to Carrier X's customer service department…")

– Was the service representative friendly?
– How many times was I transferred during the course of my call?
– How many calls did it take to resolve my issue?
– Was the service representative knowledgeable about my issue?
– Would I recommend "carrier X" to a friend based on my experience with their customer service?

How can a carrier and their customer service department miss the big picture so completely? My ROI as a wireless customer is less than six months all costs including handset subsidies included, and I just signed on to a new two-year contract.

I recently read an article by Frederick Reichheld in an old HBR that I had at home. A colleague of mine recommended it to me. The title is "The One Number You Need to Grow." To summarize, the author's idea is that the best predictor of top-line growth can usually be captured in a single survey question: "Would you recommend this company to a friend?"

My old carrier came close to asking that question, but didn't along with many other important ones.