A while ago I booked online with Dublin airport parking. (It’s a good service.) However, a few days later I got an email with a strange heading: “You said. We listened.” What? I hadn’t said anything to them.
“We'd like to take this opportunity to alert you to some exciting new developments to our Terminal 1 Car Park in Dublin Airport,” the first paragraph read. I was so excited.
“Based on your valued feedback we are about to make a significant investment in upgrading our Terminal 1 Car Park,” it breathlessly continued. “Improving your experience is of paramount importance to us and this is the key focus of our improvement project.”
And on it went in its excited manner until finally it got to the point: One of the car parks was being closed for several months and prices would be rising.
A few days later I noticed this heading from Microsoft: “Your Feedback Matters -- Update on Xbox One.” And in classic communicator excitement it began “Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience. For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come.”
But then as I scanned some other new stories I noticed the following heading: “Microsoft reverses Xbox One online check and used games policies following backlash.”
Communicators sure are an excited breed. It would be better if they were less excited and more to the point. Communicators seem to be incapable of delivering bad news without first wrapping it up in shiny language and tying a bow of excitement on top.
A few days after I had received the original email from Dublin Airport Parking, I received another one. This contained responses from lots of irate customers with questions such as:
"Why did you neglect this car park so much it you have to close it for two months?"
"You state that prices will increase because of this work. Are all prices increasing?"
It seems that the customers were excited too, but for all the wrong reasons.
Do traditional communications strategies of covering up the truth work? Surely, someone has some research. It would be great to hear about it.
Because all the evidence we have seen over the years from our testing is that smiley faces and excited language are huge irritants for customers. People are very busy and very skeptical and cynical today. They want you to get to the point.
Look at this sentence again for a moment:
“Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.”
It might as well say:
“Last week it rained in Seattle, Tom’s car broke down in Stuttgart, and Mary and John had a nice coffee together in Dublin.”
Organizations continue to undermine their credibility by communicating the way they do. If they want customer trust and loyalty they should try a little truth and honesty.