Beware language leaks

A couple of years ago I had a long held pension policy come to fruition, the good news was that I was still too young to retire, the bad news was that it not enough to retire on.

The pension company cocked up and there followed a series of letters and phone calls to rectify things, and in fairness they did eventually sort it out, but the big lesson for me came from a conversation with a customer service representative, who told me his job was to “manage my expectations”.

At which point I made it clear that since the company had been aware for thirty years of the date it was going to mature,  my expectation was for them to start paying it on time!

I understand that the company tells its people that they must manage clients expectations, but here is the point – language leaks, whether it is what you call people the names of products or even the working title of something that becomes the public title! If you think of a product or service as “bog standard” eventually you will call it that in front of a customer.

If you do a “cheap” option or a less good, budget version be careful what you call it

If you think about the supermarkets cheap own brand products – they call them “value”, “everyday” “essentials”. Or McDonalds fries – you cannot buy a small portion – only medium and large!

I read a little while ago about a potato producer who put the same spuds into a branded bag at a higher price that outsold the standard bag.

The pension company employee had clearly been told that his job was to ensure that people with gripes did not expect too much from their customer service.  From the company point of view their expectations needed to be  managed.

Words matter whether it is a brand, label or the language you speak, whatever you use in private, will eventually become public, be aware of how it will appear then!

If you still have doubts remember Gerald Ratner!