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Britons revolt against false ‘cold caller chumminess’


By John Glenday, Reporter

April 2, 2013 | 2 min read

A survey gauging the public’s opinion on the growing use of informal language in customer service has found that the practice is a major turn-off for most, according to a new Ask Jeeves survey.

Firms are increasingly ditching formal language in their communications with customers in favour of American style informality in an attempt to connect better with the public.

These efforts may be counter-productive however after the survey results showed that three in 10 Britons were fed up with being treated like old friends by cold callers.

Half of those quizzed would prefer it if bank clerks, sales people and waiters reverted to titles such as Mr, Miss or Mrs, or sir/madam, when referring to them by name.

A clear majority, six in ten, found cold callers who began conversations with ‘Hi [first name]’ were an instant turn-off and 12% were unhappy with Starbuck’s practice of scrawling customers first names on their latte.

An Ask Jeeves spokesperson said: “There is nothing wrong with friendliness but it just doesn’t wash when it comes from someone you have never met or even spoken to.

“Often these are people who are trying to sell you something and who have no other interest in you yet they treat you like a long-lost pal. Jeeves was a well brought up butler, he would never have dreamt of saying to Wooster ‘Hiya Bertie, how’s it hanging?’”


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