The magic of tag lines

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

A few days ago, I remembered I needed to cancel an Audible account that I had opened a little while ago for testing purposes. Indeed, since I routinely purchase Audible books on the iTunes Music Store, I did not want to keep an account at their main site — even though both entry points to their catalog have distinct and real advantages.

When dealing with a serious company such as Audible, asking for an account cancellation is no trouble: shoot them a mail and wait for the reply to come back within the next business day. Helpful, courteous, efficient, I only have positive comments about the people I have dealt with — OK, maybe their outsourced support site is a bit of a mess but that is another story and certainly no showstopper, provided they keep it in check.

The one thing I don't really understand is why their corporate guidelines ask their people to sign "We wish you many hours of great listening" — or something closely along these lines. That's OK if I'm writing about opening an account but why tell me that as I cancel one? Maybe something else would have made more sense such as "We would be delighted to serve you again in the future." — or something equally general, silly and soothing.

Most, if not all of the companies I deal with, offer excellent support, hire real people speaking real English (or French or German) and who more or less all know the ins and outs of the product they are supporting. While I'm glad to report that none of these companies has dramatically changed their support staff over the past year, an increasing number has started using similar taglines. My host asks me to "let them know if I need any more help or support", a software developer constantly asks me how they can "Work with me towards the full resolution of my issue" and my airline always "thanks me and wishes me a great day on behalf of [insert name], a founding member of the so and so alliance". Eeek!

I don't know why marketing departments feel obliged to implement such procedures. Do they feel threatened by their own employees? Do they feel they train them so little they need to script them to death? In my experience, so far, none of these measures were justified and the people who were writing the messages certainly had the brains to come up with the appropriate signature, all by themselves…

Another question for E-mail marketing books, I guess…


2005-08-24 11:32:20
Marketing Dept. Happy Hour
...whenever the marketing dept. starts issuing mandatory guidelines (especially stylized ones) that govern all employee communiations with customers, there is evidence of corporate malaise. (Sort of like my "square of twelve vice presidents" rule. It states that if the number of VPs in a corporation is larger than the square of 12, then you should sell the stock and backup all of your content hosted on their servers.)

What would do these corporations a lot of good is to have "The Cluetrain Manifesto" be designated mandatory reading for all mid-level managers and everyone in Marketing!