Too much talking and not enough listening


The page below looks nice enough, doesn't it? But read the text closely and you'll see it's a great example of how not to talk to your customers.

Here are the comments I feel like writing in the box.

Dear Tesco

Phew! I couldn’t find you on Twitter so I’m using this website to talk to you. It took me a while to find, actually, because I started off going to the website where I do all of my shopping. Luckily, my daughter, who works in something called “communications” told me to try something called your “corporate” website. I've no idea what that means but I followed her advice. When I got to this site, I just happened to click on the “Talking Tesco” button and, well, here I am!

I’m glad that you believe passionately that customers have benefited in so many ways from the intense competitive rivalry in this industry.

I’m also glad that you know from the feedback you get on a daily basis that many customers like the products, prices and service in your stores. It’s great, too, to know that customers also tell you when you don't get it right - but you do listen and respond to concerns.

So thank you for asking me for my views!

It’s great that this is my chance to have my voice heard because I wanted to have a word with someone about your new range of ready meals. Sorry, I was talking about ready meals – why are you banging on at me about some Commission?

Oh, I see, it’s something called the Competition Commission. Who are they, then? Apparently my email will go direct to them too – do they make ready meals? And do they capitalize their name or not?

Oh, don’t worry, I’ve just spotted the “Contact Customer Services” button at the bottom of the page. I’ll email them and hopefully they’ll get back to me in a week or two.

In the meantime, I’ve also just spotted the link marked “Listening” at the top of the page, so I’m going to take a closer look at that page, which is all about how your success is based on listening to your customers. I’m looking forward to reading all 1,017 words about how your strategy of listening and responding has been successful.

Toodle pip!

A loyal Tesco customer

p.s. Elsewhere, your website kept offering to help me find the content I need. What does this mean? Content of what?

Or I might just spell it out to them by saying the following:

You want customers to get in touch with you, do you? Then for gawd's sake make it easy for them. Your average shopper doesn't even know that you've got a corporate website. This stuff should be on your main retail page.

If you really care about people's views, ask for them straight up. Don't make them plough through two paragraphs of self-referential waffle telling them what to think. There are six examples of the first person plural pronoun in those first two paragraphs. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

If you're trying to gather feedback specifically for the Competition Commission, then label the page as such first - and explain what it's all about. Don't hit your reader with this bemusing bombshell out of the blue and only after you've made them plough through those two paragraphs of self-referential waffle.

Telling people how much you listen to them is not the same as listening to them. Save the chest-beating about your successful listening for your internal comms, OK?

The word "content" means nothing to people outside the communications industry. Please use "information" when talking to customers.