Joe Duffy For the Modern Aul One

January 29, 2013

While on a holiday in the good old U.S of A I noticed something about the quality of the customer service which I’ve never before witnessed in Ireland; it was good. In fact, it was great. Service with a smile and I was happy to leave a tip. McDonalds gets the kudos here seeing as I spent a lot of time in it. Not once when I was waiting in line did I hear “Neeeeext” or “Yeah?/Alright?/Hiya?/Howiye?/Well?”. Every time it was “I Can Help the Next Customer”. I loved this. It stuck with me because it was like an offering, not a demand, not a “hurry up so I can serve the person behind you”. It was more like “come over here to me and I’ll take care of that for you”. As close to an Irish mammy as you would get on another continent.

Now I’m going to slate the financial sector here for a bit, just to put this article into context. I know that everyone likes to give out about the banks but I’m not going to be talking about how they ruined the world. My humble spiel starts off with trying to get an increase on an overdraft. I had a student account so I was legally entitled to it. It took a phone call a week, for four weeks and a formal complaint until I managed to get to speak to someone in the branch. At no stage did they make any effort to make my life easier with a simple call back or an e-mail.

So why did I wait around? Did I feel bad for the bank? Maybe it was because they had had a fairly rough time over the last few months and I didn’t want to cause any undue hassle. Why didn’t I take to the airwaves and give Joe Duffy a shout? Probably because I don’t have that kind of time on my hands.

More so though, it was down to the fact that we as Irish people are not complainers. At least not to the faces of those who work for these companies. Did you ever get a bad hair cut? When they show you the back with the mirror and ask “now how’s that?” and all you can think is “that is exactly what I did not ask for”. But you don’t say it. You smile politely and nod your head; “that’s great thanks”. Why do we do this? Is it just some setting in our Irish genes? Is it a confidence issue? Maybe we just don’t like to make a fuss.

What I should have done was taken to Facebook. I have noticed this becoming commonplace and in Ireland in particular. I’ve witnessed people venting their anger at companies via Facebook and getting Usain Bolt-speed results. See below for one such example I happened across only days ago. 



Take another example of a new-ish restaurant in Ranelagh. They caused a right ruckus when they called one of their customers an a***hole after he complained on Twitter about the speed of the service…while still in the restaurant! Click here to see how it all unfolded.

You see, we just don’t make complaints face to face.

What does this tell us about social media and the benefits, along with the potential pitfalls for businesses that use it? For one thing, beware about what you’re opening yourself up to. People will complain a whole lot faster than they will compliment. Secondly, it should be embraced as an opportunity to get complaints dealt with as quick as possible and then reap the rewards of the positive PR.

Social media has opened the flood gates for people to complain in a sort of half-assed public manner. It’s the Irish way of politely causing a scene. It’s also a brilliant way of getting your grievances sorted in a jiffy.

– Mark



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