Monday, June 3, 2013

Corporation-speak: a phrasebook

A new language for addressing the public has evolved in recent decades. It has no official name, but its most essential feature is insincerity. It began as a dialect of English, but it passes the test of being a separate language because it is now incomprehensible to English speakers.

There are two main dialects of this new language: 'Bureaucratic Obscurantism' and 'Corporate Bollocks'.


These languages developed in response to economic changes, whereby organisations that were once motivated by serving the public (in the case of the private sector) or making money (private enterprise) both shifted their focus to the new priorities of Maintaining A Positive Public Image and Avoiding Being Sued.

As part of this process, Net Profit has been replaced as a measure of corporate success by Facebook Likes.

Unfortunately, both Bureaucratic Obscurantism and Corporate Bollocks are disguised to look like English, so it has become necessary to produce a phrasebook to explain the real meanings of some of its most common phrases. While each phrase has its own superficial meaning, the underlying message of all of them is "You can't sue us."

"Committed to optimising customer delight"

"Pretending to believe our own corporate fairy tale"
"Important Information"
 Unimportant Information drafted by our paranoid lawyers

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused"
We were so confident of providing poor service for many years to come, we recorded this message five years ago

"Award-winning"
We gave ourselves an award

"For your comfort and convenience"
We have installed the most basic and rudimentary features

"For your safety and security, CCTV has been installed"
We're watching you, so don't step out of line
Or,
We have installed CCTV to protect our property from you
Or,
We have no staff, so if anything happens you're on your own."

"Use at your own risk"
We have not installed any safety or security measures

"We accept no responsibility for loss or damage"
We'll take your money, but we will do nothing to protect your property

"Polite Notice"
Passive-Aggressive whinge

"I have read and accept the terms and conditions"
Please tick this box for no reason whatsoever

"We are experiencing unusually high call volumes"
We never have enough staff

"We record these calls to make sure we are providing the best service possible"
We record these calls to collect evidence against our staff

"Your business is important to us"
We'd like you to keep spending money with us as long as it doesn't depend on us spending any money on you

"Committed to excellence"
Committed to mediocrity

"We cannot respond to every comment individually"
Nobody is even going to read your message. But we hope you feel better now you've got it off your chest.

"As a gesture of goodwill"
As a panicked response to the realisation that you have a compelling case against us

"As part of our commitment to providing you with the best service possible"
As part of our commitment to providing you with the cheapest service possible

"Essential maintenance"
Emergency repairs

"Upgrading"
Emergency repairs

"We are working to improve our service"
It's broken again

"Thank you for waiting" 
Wow, are you still here? You must be desperate

"We apologise if our message/advert/tweet caused offence"
Jeez, when did people get so touchy about racism/sexism/mocking the poor? 

"Correct procedures were followed"
We covered our arses

"Systems and procedures will be revised"
We want to make sure our arses are covered next time 
  
"I take full responsibility"
It wasn't my fault

"Lessons will be learned"
We haven't identified the scapegoat yet

"Going online is a quick and easy way to answer any questions you may have"
Don't bother us

Moral: Never confuse "Customer Service" with "serving customers".

1 comment:

  1. "I_AM_SORRY_FOR_YOUR_DELAY"

    I am a synthesised voice. I do not have a conception of sorrow. They have instructed to me to lie to you. Why would they do that?

    ReplyDelete