Last night I attended an event organised by one of my clients which looked at the relationship between organisations and their clients.
I won’t steal their thunder by disclosing anything too much here (I will share a link when they publish their research) but one example from the round table discussions really struck home with me.
One of the people there worked for a company that runs a luxury railway service – real top of the range stuff.
They’ve decided to call the people who use their service “guests” rather than “passengers” to establish the perception that the offer’s not simply a travel service, but a hotel on wheels.
I’d often consign something like this to the little book of marketing b******s. But coming from an industry that uses jargon unheard anywhere else (what the hell is a vestibule anyway?) I thought it showed a nice bit of lateral thinking.
Or maybe the red wine was making me feel particularly generous.
I was thinking about this as I was strapped into a dentist’s chair this morning in preparation for everyone’s favourite treatment, root canal work.
Now my dentist is good (and even if he wasn’t I wouldn’t say so publicly – have you ever seen Marathon Man?) and I’m a pretty calm patient.
But there was a moment of concern, after a sustained period of prodding and tugging, when he asked his assistant, “Could you please pass me The Predator”.
And I assure you it was definitely capitalised.
Who on earth would ever call a piece of dental equipment The Predator?
My instinctive dash to the door did not go unmissed by my dentist who apologised and reassured me.
But it was a timely reminder to me that the words we use, not just in copy but in the delivery of our service, can have a huge impact on customer perception and experience.
Sadly, The Predator failed to live up to its name and some hours later I left with one less tooth in my head but an idea for a blog. It might not get me any SEO points but it’s nice to get it off my chest.
Image (c) Shutterstock / schankz