‘Fix your sheets to your clipboards, boys, and don’t start asking the questions until you can see the whites of their eyes!’ Thus were the famous words of General Gideon ‘Soggy Biscuit’ Rupert-Rupertson, as he prepared his King’s Own Royal Questioneers for their first encounter with the enemy in WWI.
It was the first time the British had thought of using the survey as a weapon of war since Nelson had used it at the Battle of Trafalgar to taunt the French with several probing and intimate questions about their ideal summer holidays and whether Napoleon was too much of a shortarse to be a real world leader.
Rupert-Rupertson and his men gathered with their questionnaires in that muddy fetid trench hoped to surprise the Germans, as they invaded the British trench, with a number of questions about the quality of the German trenches, their artillery support and general defences in a way which would leave the advancing German infantry exposed to a flanking questionnaire. This flanking questionnaire, about what they though their wives and girlfriends were really up to back at home, the British high command hoped, would lead to a general collapse in the German morale. Thus bringing about the swift end to what had turned out to be a long and bloody war.
However, the German High Command had spent some time working out an effective counter-survey strategy based around their newly-designed anti-clipboard grenade, which they hoped would take out the clipboard-wielding British infantry before the Germans had got within earshot of the first question.
Unfortunately, though, the German anti-clipboard grenade had not been tested under the quagmire-like conditions of the Western Front, so most of the grenades lobbed by the advancing German infantry failed to explode, leaving the majority of the British soldiers with relatively undamaged clipboards and intact questionnaires. Thus was the German advance broken and thwarted, with the German infantry fleeing back to the relative safety of their own trenches, expressing widespread dissatisfaction with their whole experience of the war so far, and keen to get home to see exactly what their wives and girlfriends were really up to while the soldiers were away fighting for their country.
It was this successful use of the survey during both world wars and the amount of defence-based research into it in the inter-war years and, especially, during the post-WWII Cold War period that has turned the Customer Satisfaction Survey into the lethal and fearsome weapon it is today.
The First 'Tales of the Unexpurgated' book is available here for the Kindle.