Customer Service

And now for something completely different

So today was a fairly normal until my email to my local bus company went slightly viral in the news. I basically took the afternoon off work to respond to it and watch bemusedly as it grew and travelled online. I certainly didn’t expect to be searching Twitter for ‘bus babe’ when I woke up this morning.

When I thought it was just my local paper that was covering the ‘story’ I thought about sending them a response and maybe creating a jokey hashtag but as it spread further than that I set up a tumblr to keep track of the coverage – and a hashtag #dontcallmebabe. My response will be posted on the Guardian website tomorrow (so now I’m basically Charlie Brooker right?)

I guess that some of this isn’t that unrelated to things I blog about; customer service and the internet. Normal (sporadic) digital marketing posting will resume shortly but for now I just thought I’d post about my (very very small) brush with internet fame.

  • Reading UnMarketing
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    ‘Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging’ ~ I love this book

‘Unmarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging’ ~ I love this book

Marketing is not a task.
Marketing is not a department.
Marketing is not a job.
Marketing happens every time you engage (or not) with your past, present, and potential customers

So, recently I’ve been reading UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. by Scott Stratten and I thought I’d share some of the bits that made me go ‘oooooo yes I should definitely change how I do that’. Problem with that is that most of the book made me do that so here are the top best bits (as well as two pictures featuring my knees…)

UnMarketing notesThe book talks about the importance of building relationships with your customers and gives lots of examples of how this has been done well and badly by various organisations (the bad examples are my favourite!)

Scott emphasis the need to be authentic and real and not be tempted by automation where it kills personal contact.

He has a fancy diagram (who doesn’t love a diagram?) that shows that the best customers are those who have a relationship with you based on trust.

He describes the ‘trust gap‘ – “the amount of trust you have to earn before your potential customer will consider buying from you” and the ‘experience gap‘ – “the space between the best services, often what a new customer receives and the worst experience”. You need to work out how to bridge the former and minimise the latter.

The book is full of easy to read case studies and examples. The chapters are short and snappy which makes it perfect park reading material…

Reading UnMarketing

Scott definitely practises what he preaches, I tweeted this picture and mentioned @unmarketing

[blackbirdpie url=”!/jowalters/status/57139057960030208″]

… and swiftly got this reply 🙂

[blackbirdpie url=”!/unmarketing/status/57151603144273920″]

You should buy the book and go have a wander through the UnMarketing website –


Am I really a valued customer?

Boo Scottish Power (my new electricity supplier) for charging me much more than I think you should

Yey Scottish Power for letting me book a callback at a specific time. I hate calling customer service lines, being held in a queue, being told you’re a valued customer (funny, it never feels like that at the time) and everything taking forever

Boo Scottish Power for starting my callback with a pre-recorded message – ‘This is a call for, a valued customer. If you are, a valued customer, please press 1. If you need to get, a valued customer, we can wait’. I was logged into my account when I requested the callback so presumably you know my name. If you can’t have a real person to start the call (and why not? That would be so much nicer) at least pretend more effectively that you care and run my name through a fancy text to speech system (like my bank who for some reason pronounce my name as Jonah). If you’re going to use a generic message you should record the whole thing, this one clearly had the words ‘a valued customer’ dropped in really badly throughout.

Double boo Scottish Power for asking me for my account details when I got through to a real person. Like I said, why can’t you link your callback system to my account so you know who I am, my account details and could even have a go at pre-empting my question? I’m happy to verify my details so you know I’m not some overly helpful mugger who stole my phone but then wanted to sort out my billing issues for me, but the guy who dealt with my call had no idea who I was.

Yey Scottish Power for actually being very helpful on the phone, your staff redeem your awful automated and fake niceness with genuine friendliness and concern.

The moral of the story is, if you’re going to think of people as valued customers (which you should), you should actually treat them like that and do your best to be useful and genuine rather than just telling them they’re valued.

End of rant