Mind Your Language – Words Make Worlds

Extracted tooth

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

One thought on “Mind Your Language – Words Make Worlds

  1. Shortly after posting this I received a nicely worded email from an editor marking up my copy glitches. My only excuse is it was written immediately after the incident with The Predator and under the influence of whatever narcotic was injected into me to dull the pain.

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