I was listening on my wireless to the BBC Empire Service last week.
Well, actually it was the World Service, but it might just as well have been its forerunner from a century ago.
The programme was one long moan about how companies treat people complaining like morons, hiding behind a “digital defence” of automated e-mail replies and automaton call centre operators.
I sympathise. Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of a corporate robot, desperately trying trick questions to get them off the script and emit a sign of
But there’s been a breakthrough these past couple of years. I’m a free-of-gluten bird, but ran out of time to get my normal wheat-free bread from Whitstable baker to the stars and ordinary souls, Ingrid Eissfeldt . Luckily I was passing Marks & Spencer so I nipped to the abundant GF counter in Sturry, Canterbury only to find my favourite shelf empty.
Back home, as I miserably munched my marmite on rice crackers, I tweeted my distaste for M&S’s stock keeping. By the time I’d finished my snack, the M&S twitterati replied they’d been in touch with the stock allocation team and there would be some of the bread in store the next time I visited.
This is the new way of channelling complaints. Companies have no incentive to help a customer often so disgruntled they’re unlikely to ever buy anything again. But widen the circle (I found out my Twitter reach is actually 42,000) and you’re starting to level the
sides a bit.
In Britain, we’re stuck in a time warp. In the Middle East, where social media has brought down governments, it’s has also been used for simpler ends – reducing the price of cottage cheese in Israel, for example.
The BBC could learn from its former empire.
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