Friday, 24 August 2012

Emotionally Intelligent Messaging

Enter any railway station in England and you are likely to be greeted by a sign warning you that if you assault their staff you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This unfortunately sums up the attitude the station management companies have towards their customers. I am not greeted by a sign like this when I walk into Tescos, Boots, or Marks & Sparks, and yet I have no doubt that these companies would also seek prosecution if I assaulted their staff. Nor have I seen one in pubs or nightclubs where you would think the possibility of violence is higher. By displaying these signs in prominent places the station management companies are telling us that the service they deliver is so poor, that they expect otherwise rational human beings to lose their tempers, but rather than attempt to improve their service they prefer to pre-judge, threaten and hopefully intimidate their customers.

In contrast I am reminded of a sign I saw in a playground cafe. It read, "Children left unattended will be given a double espresso and promised a puppy." It's neither threatening nor intimidating, in fact it's quite the opposite, but I suspect is far more successful at influencing behaviour. Given the choice, with which of these two companies would you rather do business? More importantly, how do your customers and staff perceive the messages you send them?

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