Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Take some time to listen...

Conversation. It happens naturally all the time.

The recipe:
2 or more participants, something of common interest to discuss, share or exchange.

The method:
Talk, listen, reflect, respond. Repeat.

If you are not listening it's not a conversation it's a monologue.

We've all been cornered by a bore at a party, more interested in their own voice than allowing us to interject or contribute. It's not fun.

Yet so many brands persist at shouting at us. 

Attempts to question, get answers, make suggestions studiously ignored or quashed by 0870 help lines, and automatic telephone systems. Press # to take you right back to that Mastermind-beating combination of menu choices none of which obviously meet your need or question. Grrrrr.

So fairplay to Eurostar who've had their share of bad press recently over the service disruptions caused  by the cold snowy weather we experienced before and after Christmas, but were being praised by some of my London based French colleagues who were caught up in the chaos as they tried to head home for Christmas. They were telling me that they'd received great service and answers to questions via the Eurostar Facebook page, at a point where they were finding it hard to get useful information via the website, nor via phone.

No prizes, for not having got the web or customer care centre service levels right, but at least being able to get case by case answers via Facebook turned a lot of angry rants into grateful thanks.

Why? Because they listened to the questions and answered them. That's how it should be in a conversation. A dialogue. There's a real mixture of comments  and queries on the page, but worth a look to see how they are using it. The tone is friendly, there's clearly a degree of "the official line is" but also trying to resolve problems as best as possible, or at least manage people's expectations which is clearly being appreciated.

To me, that counts rather more than this rather clumsy execution of a full page print ad that appeared in yesterday's Metro.

It is the thought that should count, but they should have talked to the Facebook team, and delivered a more human message.  The print ad, weeks after all the disruption occurred, feels a bit like an unrepentent child being forced to say sorry.

And where's the link to their Facebook page?  Doh.

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