I went to a well-known American diner in the Midlands the other day with some clients. I recall, way back in the early nineties, how this brand was more than just food. It was an "experience", something to talk about to others. But you just lost me, American diner. The other night, we were completely off the customer service radar, the food was frankly overpriced and unauthentic. There was no effort to make the food appetising: the pictures on the menu looked much better than it tasted. Back in the day, they tasted just like they looked. Ordering some cocktails, I thought for a minute I must have been at a bifocal optician’s. They were served in BIG thick-rimmed glasses with enough ice to sink the Titanic. "Cocktail cost-savings 101: quick, let’s jip the paying customer." Your shareholders may well be pleased this year as the dividends are issued, American diner, but that’s me done. You just lost a lifelong advocate and I’ll tell anyone who asks me about it. The model probably allows for that – there’ll always be someone who will not know any better. Maybe I’m seeing things through blinkered eyes, but where’s the experience gone? "Listening" banks are now listening from Karachi! I understand the commercial realities of call centres but this erosion creep is going to kill your business, slowly. Recently an insurance company lost me as a customer because the person on the other side of the phone, (let’s call him George) couldn’t understand me. Granted I’m from Manchester, it’s not my fault I sound like Ashley Peacock, but it was the insurance company’s fault that I put the phone down through frustration. Though even that was no doubt lost in translation. Then, my mobile phone provider of nine years "couldn’t" offer me a better tariff. Some months I was shelling out £400 a month on calls. Only when I said I was leaving did a package materialise which allowed for unlimited calls for £125. ONLY WHEN I SAID I WAS LEAVING. They were shafting me for as long as they could get away with it. To read the rest of Brad Burton’s column, click here
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