Someone nicked my yogurt from the fridge at work. Now, don’t get defensive - I’m not suggesting it was any of you, because none of you work in my office. Frankly, if any of you were willing to travel to Manchester in order to break through our tough security system and steal a yogurt from our fridge, I’d be impressed at your persistence and probably wouldn’t be too upset.
But it wasn’t any of you. It was some little dairy product thieving shyster, too lazy to walk across the road to Aleef’s and buy a yogurt of their own. They had no doubt left their own yogurt at home that morning, remembering it on the train and thinking, “Oh, sod it, I’ve forgotten my yogurt. Never mind - Ant normally has one in the fridge that he doesn’t eat, so I’ll nick that.”
OK, so I normally leave my yogurts in the fridge until mouldy and then throw them out, but that is MY RIGHT AS A PAYING YOGURT CUSTOMER. I’ll find out who it was, don’t you worry. And when I do, I’ll exact the sort of out-of-proportion revenge that will have the rest of the office shaking their heads and saying, “Jesus, it was only a yogurt. What is his problem?”
The upshot of my yogurt-nightmare hell is that I’m in a bad mood - worse than normal, even. And since everyone else seems to be all optimistic about things Loftus Road based at the moment, please allow me to belch out some snidey and unwarranted cynicism to balance things up a bit.
Mind you, of all the myriad things wrong with life, the universe and everything (Les Dennis… why?), which one to pick on? Well, what has particularly tickled my goat (or something) recently is the appearance of a very ugly word at QPR. Apparently, according to the season ticket literature, we are no longer ‘fans’, ‘supporters’ or even ‘customers’. We’re now ‘clients’.
The advance of this sort of corporate bullshit speak into football clubs like ours is terrifying and sad, but unfortunately no surprise. It’s been coming for a while - and in my opinion it all started with the advent of automated telephone banking. I suppose I should like telephone banking, really. In principle, I’m in favour of anything that means I don’t ever have to actually speak to any of the vacantly grinning idiots who work at my bank.
The problem is, I’m less keen on being told how valuable a customer I am, whilst in the background a ten-billion pound computer, installed at the expense of several thousand human employees, is failing to process a relatively simple transaction correctly.
Worse still are those bloody “…for balance enquiries, press one… for statements, press two…” type messages. Research has found them to be almost as infuriating as waiting 19 minutes for Tony Incenzo to say something interesting on Clubcall.
Supposedly, the menu items listed in those messages are arranged in order of likelihood, such that most callers are dealt with by the time the message reaches “…press three”. Why is it, then, that every time I ring the bloody thing I seem to have to wait until about option 72 before I even get close to the function I’m after? Often, by the time the message has got to “…to throw towels over a new camel, press nine hundred and six”, the will to live is gone.
One wonders how Rangers would implement a system if ever the technology were to find its way into the club. Given the likely make-up of calls to the club, the most likely options might be: “…to complain about ticket allocations, press one… to ask when the new shirts might eventually be available, press two… to slag off the caterers, press three… to find out where your season ticket has got to, press four… to recommend another huge, immobile striker to the manager, press five…”
Of course, none of this technological advancement has anything whatever to do with customer service, but everything to do with making staff redundant, saving money, and then employing gangs of 17-year-olds on £3.60 an hour in ‘call centres’ (huge sheds, full of people - the human equivalent of battery farms).
Part of this phoney customer service ethic involves the principle of customer feedback. In essence, this means gathering up mountains and mountains of information from customers that is eventually distilled into one piece of information presented to the Board of Directors of a company - perhaps a chart with a line pointing upwards, or a slide containing the word ‘Good’.
The Board can then issue a press release claiming to be brilliant at everything because the customers have said so. There are so many applications for this at a club like Rangers, it almost beggars belief that those in charge haven’t picked up on it.
A non-football example. Imagine you worked at a zoo (if you actually do work at a zoo, then obviously you won’t need to imagine this part). Your job is to manage the ‘SIX Penguin Enclosure’. Your penguins are old, sick, smelly and malnourished. A big sign above the enclosure proclaims ‘This is the SIX penguin enclosure’.
A marketing/customer service genius has made sure that there are actually seven penguins in the six-penguin enclosure most of the time. Your customer feedback form might ask: “How many penguins were you expecting to see in the SIX penguin enclosure today?”; “How many penguins were there in the enclosure today?”; and “Did the number of penguins you saw today meet your expectations of penguins?”
Of course, the likely answers are: “I expected to see six penguins; I actually saw seven penguins; I saw one more penguin than I thought I was going to.”
By the time this information has been analysed by a team of £100-an-hour specialists and presented to the zoo’s directors, it has become: “We are a customer-focused penguin house who exceed our customers’ penguin expectations 93 per cent of the time.”
Easy. And thus, a scabby, poorly run zoo becomes a paragon of customer service excellence. Obviously, any extra customer comments such as, “I saw seven penguins, but frankly I couldn’t give a shit whether there were six or seven, because they stank so badly” - have to be quietly ignored. Just think of all the applications for this type of information. A bit of data collection and a couple of calculators might enable the Rangers Board to issue a report that justifiably claims: “Our box office consistently meets the expectations of our customers...” (who largely expect it to be a shambles).
“Our new kit was available much earlier than promised...” (achieved by releasing the kit very late, but not quite as late as we said it would be).
“Karl Ready has achieved higher outputs than any other player...” (meaning he’s hoofed the ball further into the sky than anyone else).
And so on. Some creative thinking could even make a case for saying that the signing of Peter Crouch was a direct response to customer feedback that suggested they can’t always see down to pitch level. The list is endless, and I hereby offer my services to the club, at a knockdown £80 per hour, to er… promote the club’s commitment to... um... customer excellence... er… world class… erm... feedback… interface… um… valued clients.
While top-flight football is suspended for the foreseeable future, you are cordially invited to visit this page in order to get a small fix of QPR. Each day, we will post a random article from our archives - and with over 15 million words making it in to print over the years, we can sit out this one for as long as it takes! Underneath each new daily article, we’ll provide a link to previous postings, so you won’t miss out. Of course, if you like what you read and decide to subscribe or to take advantage of our special 2019/20 season bundle offer, that’s what will really keep us going through this! So settle down and enjoy your free daily fix of QPR... on us.
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