The way we speak a common language can vary hugely, but does it affect the customer service we receive? I’d like to hear your experiences.
Are we treated differently depending on whether we have a Home Counties pronunciation, a Liverpudlian dialect, a southern US drawl or a Bangladeshi accent, to name but a few?
And it’s not just accents: names can also carry a huge amount of significance. Together they are one of the most recognisable signs of social and ethnic background.
Why are accents so significant?
Accents are important. Often, we make judgements about others – both conscious and subconscious – depending on how they speak or what their name sounds like.
There aren’t many people who haven’t adapted how they speak in certain situations in order to make themselves better heard or position themselves in a certain way.
It may sound harmless enough, but this can also come at a cost. The flipside is we can also be on the receiving end, judged on how we speak, or what our name sounds like; whether it’s socially, at work or going about our daily lives.
Sometimes it might not matter. But at other times it does.
How do accents affect you as a customer?
It would be surprising if most customers hadn’t altered their accents at some point during a conversation with a retailer, an energy company, a bank or a telecoms firm – I think it’s the 21st century equivalent of putting on a smart suit for a meeting with the bank manager.
And altering the pronunciation, spelling or shortening of your name is probably more common than it sounds too – just think of Hyacinth Bucket (or ‘Bouquet’) from the 1990s sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.
It might have been amusing in the world of television comedy a few decades ago, but when does this ‘code switching’ become a problem?
If you can’t be treated in a fair and just manner without having to alter your accent – or your name – then there’s clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.
We’re interested in your experiences – how have your accent and/or name affected the way you’re treated as a customer?