Colloquialisms and Customer Perception

I love language, accents and colloquialisms as they provide texture, colour and warmth to a customer experience but sometimes they can leave iffy customer perceptions.

I’ve been working in Glasgow recently and have enjoyed the subtle and gross language differences. The accent and dialect here loves to shorten words. For instance, ‘food’ has the ‘oo’ taken out and is pronounced Fd.

A Funny Colloquialism

I was in M&S Glasgow and bought some fd and after paying, the service person said, “thats you then”. This is short for ‘you’re now done/complete/finished’.

I wanted to say, “yes I know its me – did you doubt that it was”?

“Did you think I didn’t realise who I was and I needed to come to M&S to find out from a stranger”?

“One that not only serves me but has mystical powers of identity insight”.

This is not just any amnesia service its a M&S amnesia service!

A few years ago consulting in a West Midlands call centre some staff would say, “tara a bit” instead of “goodbye”. You could hear the hesitation of customers not understanding.

I love the hidden inference – I’m saying goodbye but only for a bit, I cant stand it if it was forever.

Across the Pond

In some areas of the USA people say “Whats up”? Instead of how are you?

Nothing is up, why would you suspect it was, do you think I have a problem such as not knowing who I am. I’ve got M&S to remind me of that thank you very much.

Everything in Glasgow seems to be “no bother”. The English version is “no problem” and the Aussie, “no worries”.

Why say this?

Are you trying to impress upon me that you are doing me a favour despite a hidden problem or that you only do things for customers if little effort or hassle is involved?

Is it my fault for asking?

After all I hadn’t thought it would be a problem until you bought it to my attention that it might be for you.

The Scots seem to love the term ‘pal’, similar to ‘mate’.

“Sorry pal”! Is that a dog reference or I am your mate now. Do you only serve dogs or mates?

We are all Susceptible 

I have to be careful myself of course. Outside of work I prefer to use, “cool” and “man” as  I greet close friends with “hey man, how are you”. “Good thanks, cool”.

I’m not sure where it came from perhaps the legacy of being a child of the liberated 1960’s, but these verbal tendencies are there waiting to break out in customer conversation.

My friends don’t tend to be spliff smoking hippies and so like all colloquialisms they can overstep the mark, be out of context, disconnect and break rapport; especially if they over spill into customer conversations in which we aren’t old friends.

We are currently helping organisations update and improve the quality of their customer experience and so if you would like a no obligation conversation on this topic contact me at


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