The customer is always right.
So, do I want to be on first name terms with everyone I meet as I go about my mundane and humdrum business? No, I don’t.
Would I be happy if the default position was always interacting on first name terms? No, I wouldn’t.
Am I happy to swap first names with people I meet? Yes, maybe, if they are regular acquaintances or there is some regular social interaction.
But, no, Starbucks, on the off-chance I pop in for an over-priced, over-frothy coffee, I don’t want my name on my cup.
I just want to be served a decent cuppa at a decent price in surroundings I feel comfortable in…which means I won’t go to Starbucks anyway.
I can’t help thinking that the coffee company’s first name terms campaign misses the mark completely. Contrary to what they are clearly aiming to achieve, I find it rather anti-social.
I’m all for good customer service and being made to feel valued, not just another consumer with an open wallet. However, I’d rather not feel pressured into taking that fairly basic provider-customer relationship onto a new social level quite so abruptly. The first name terms campaign feels gimmicky, yes, but it also feels like a very one-way relationship with the company in the dominant role dictating everything – no change there, then.
It is creating a default position that I’m not comfortable with. And, after all, I’m the customer and I’m always right.
Generally, it is true to say that social media and the interaction we enjoy on the likes of Twitter, Facebook et al has created a much more informal approach and attitude. But we choose how we interact with people on such platforms and which people we want to converse with.
Despite the growing informality, we still enjoy some degree of control (although many will argue that the T&Cs adopted by many internet companies always puts the ball firmly in their court). And I’m sure most of us jealously guard that feeling of control, whether we actually enjoy it or not.
I want to feel that same level of control when I go into a shop, whatever it is trying to sell me. I realise creating personal relationships with customers is all-important these days, but surely that is a two-way process?
I wouldn’t go quite as far as insisting on having “Sir” written on my Starbucks cup.
But if I do ever darken their door again (and it is a big “if”), I’ll be walking back out with a cup that isn’t displaying my name…I may choose “Anti-Competitive”, “Homogenised Gloop” or simply “Another Sucker” instead.