Saturday, March 22, 2008

"We value your business"

"We value your business" - these four words appear on websites, in customer service centres, in emails and letters...and of course, while waiting on hold.

I hate these four words.

It's not the sentiment that actually bothers me. Hopefully the company does value my business and the company telling me this is about to prove it somehow. It just lacks any evidence of a human being. It is either lazy or misguided. Either way, it misses a great opportunity to show that your brand (and the people working there) have some personality.

While searching for examples of brands using these four words, I found this lovely bit of writing here from Shaun McIlrath - a creative director at Hurrell and Dawson, London. You can't argue with any of this, except to say that real direct marketing professionals (the likes of Drayton Bird and the late David Ogilvy) would never start with 'Dear Valued Customer' either. In fact, quite the opposite.

Anyway, it's so good, I've literally pasted the entire piece from Scamp's blog (well worth visiting)....

Dear Valued Blog Reader,

How does that introduction make you feel? Like a piece of shit, would be my guess. And yet, there are thousands of well-paid Direct Marketing professionals starting pieces of communication like this every day.

So, the first thing you need to know about Direct is that any advice you might get from a Direct ‘expert’ should be treated as deeply suspect.

This is how companies speak:

Dear Valued Customer.

As part of our ongoing improvement initiative we are centralising data, in order to provide a more streamlined service. We are also taking this opportunity to realign customer sales and are, therefore, in the process of updating our information. Enclosed you will find a Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire. Complete the FREEPOST form and send it back before June and you could WIN A HOLIDAY FOR TWO.

That is a real letter. From a company. It says only one thing: companies don’t give a fuck about you, they want your money and, at the end of the day, you are nothing more than a name on a list in a huge numbers game.

People, on the other hand…this is how people speak:

Dear Bob,

Since I was promoted to MD, I’ve noticed that no one tells me bad news any more. Now, I may just be paranoid, but I’m harbouring the suspicion that parts of our service aren’t as good as they could be. So, who better to ask than someone who uses it every day? Are we as good as we could be, or are there areas where we’re dodgy? Go on, give it to us right between the eyes – because, ultimately, my job depends on you being happy.


Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with the piece, Paul, which I agree with 100% - but why don't you tell people who you are?

It's hard to relate to the masked blogger.

Paul Dervan said...

Hi Drayton. Fair point. Just up and running. I'm un-masked now.