Its got your name on it

The latest business model for the public sector to imitate involves the idea of personalisation. I am not talking about the current practise in social care where the individual is given the money rather than allocated services and buys the help they need, although it is about the customer as a unique individual. I am referring to the latest marketing strategy by commercial giants Coca Cola and Starbucks.

Have you noticed how everything looks a little impersonal now a day’s runs the promotional text.  This summer where the logo normally is on a coke bottle you will find your name. That is provided yours is one of 150 first names from Aaron to Zoe. Starbucks now insist that your cappuccino comes with your name written on a sticker and shouted out by the barista. This is the latest marketing wheeze from a business model that hacks back staffing levels, pays as little as possible,(be it tax or wages) collates a mass of data in order to give you what they think you want and is doing away with the traditional ideas on customer service in favour of personalised service. You known the thing like when you log on to Amazon and it greets you by your first name or you ring up the helpline and they greet you (eventually) with “how can I help you today- inset surname or if under 50 first name. Because they know everything about you except why your order has not arrived or why your transfer to a new provider has resulted in you being service less. The “help line” is nothing of the sort it is an income generation source for which you pay a lot to listen to music down the phone. Virgin now offer customers a choice of musical genres in recognition that people spend a long time on hold.

 You may be on first name terms but that doesn’t mean they are going to give you the name of their supervisor or the manager in charge,” they are all in a meeting”, “gone home” or “we are not allowed to give out their name”. They are not really geared up for complaints because this business model is about wining customers in the face of stiff competition. They aim to gain more new customers than they lose existing customers, so they over promise and under deliver. Your couldn’t be simpler, smooth transition to another much cheaper provider will take you to the edge of despair as the new provider blames the old provider and the old provider claims they no longer have responsibility and both say it down to a third party whilst you pay for a service you’re not getting and are being charged premium rates for repeating the story to yet another polite but powerless voice at the end of the help line.

Couldn’t happen in the public sector. Remember the decomposing body of the vulnerable elderly woman found in her flat? Her cheaper than the other home care providers was removed following an investigation into the immigration status of staff. All he service users were transferred to other providers except somehow she got missed off the list. The old provider said they passed over responsibility, the new provider said they were never told and both blamed social services. 

Blair McPherson author of UnLearing management published by Russell House   


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