Easing the customer journey

Last week, I travelled to Spain to speak about websites at the #MakeItHappen conference in Marbella. (It went really well, thank you for asking.)

The whole trip took rather a lot of planning.

I booked an early morning flight to Málaga from Stansted Airport so that I could stay with my brother and his family in Cambridge the night before.

Having been stung in the past by expensive airport parking fees, I pre-booked a space in the airport car park.

[Aside: I fail to understand how it can cost more to leave your car static and unused for a few days than it does to fly yourself and your luggage to another country at hundreds of miles an hour, but that’s another story.]


How do you vote?


photo credit: Suffragettes and petitions (LOC) via photopin (license)

Have you seen the new Suffragette film?

One of the most moving moments for me was the scrolling credits at the end, when it shows the year each country gave women the vote. It ends something like: ‘2015. Saudi Arabia. Still thinking about it.’

Years ago, I studied ‘women’s issues’ as part of my OU degree. At a talk at summer school, the audience was asked to list the reason why children shouldn’t have the vote. Suggestions included: ‘They don’t have the information to make a good decision’, ‘We know better than they do’, and ‘We’ll vote in a way that looks after them’. The speaker then pulled up a Victorian document that listed all the same reasons to justify why women shouldn’t vote.

That memory has stuck in my head for a looooong time.

However, voting can be unnecessarily complicated.


Copy that could KILL!

Clever, correct and careful copywriting is important. If you don’t get it right, people might DIE!

NHSHow confusing!

“If you have not yet received your invitation letter and you are 47 to 73 years of age and you have not been screened within the last three years or if you are over 73 please contact the office on the number below and arrange your 3 yearly screening.”

How much better!

If you are aged 47-73, you are entitled to free NHS breast-screening every 3 years.

  • Have you been screened within the last 3 years?
  • Have you received an invitation letter?

If your answer to both these questions is ‘no’, or you are aged over 73, please phone 020 3299 1964 to arrange your screening.


Heading: Calling all Bromley women aged 47-73

Body copy: You are entitled to free breast-screening every 3 years. If you haven’t been screened within the past 3 years and haven’t received an invitation recently, please call 020 3299 1964.


Finding my way around prison

As I might have mentioned, I was in Cape Town recently, speaking about websites for the Professional Speaking Association of Southern Africa. The convention had a ‘break out’ theme, and was held at the Breakwater Lodge, which used to be a prison.

Almost as soon as I arrived, I was taken on a wine-tasting trip, followed by a braai (barbecue). So I didn’t get back to the hotel until late, feeling dizzy and strange after a 12-hour flight and the generous PSA SA hospitality.

Here’s the entrance to the hotel reception where I checked in. It looks just like a normal hotel, doesn’t it?


“You’re in room 2221,” they told me. “It’s in the prison building behind you. Walk along the corridor to the turret, and take the lift to the second floor.”

I turned around and saw the prison, with its crenellations around the roof and bars at the windows.

Prison 3

Obediently, I wheeled my bags through the entrance. (more…)

“Help! I’m lost in South Africa!”

As you may know,  I’ve recently returned from Cape Town, where I was speaking about websites at a convention for professional speakers.*

Cape Town is a remarkably beautiful place, overlooked by the iconic Table Mountain. To help visitors find their way around, there are handy maps located all around the waterfront. You can see one of them in the photo below.

Map 5







Let’s examine the map a little closer. As you’d expect, it includes an index of major landmarks with the grid references shown.

Map 1







I thought I’d try to find my hotel, the Breakwater Lodge, shown in the index at G8.

Map 2







Oh dear, there’s a problem. (more…)

When short is best

TextingCase study 1

My friend Hilary* used to work at a exceptionally busy medical centre. Part of her job was to make appointments for the doctors. She used to email them considerate messages saying something like:

“Sorry to interrupt, but just to let you know I’ve booked Mrs Bonzo for 20 minutes from 2pm on Monday as it looks as though you have a gap in your diary then. I hope that’s OK with you?”

She thought she was passing on the request wrapped around with respect and politeness. But when she had her annual appraisal, she was reprimanded for wasting time.

“We don’t need all that guff,” she was told. “Just tell us the name, time and date of the appointment, with no fancy fluffy verbiage”.

Hilary was perturbed. She did what she was told, but it made her feel uncomfortable to be so abrupt. (more…)

What you can learn from a pink supermarket

supermarketI’ve been lucky enough to go scuba diving in Belize, on the world’s second biggest coral reef. I’ve even dived the famous Blue Hole – one of Jacques Cousteau’s top ten sites.

I stayed in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, where there is just one supermarket. You can’t miss it. As you can see, the building is painted a noticeable shade of pink.

They’re on a small island, so almost everything they sell is imported. You have to be careful to check ‘use by’ dates, as you can’t assume they will be valid. You also have to check the prices, because – according to Trip Advisor reports – they can be randomly adjusted at the till.


Even Amazon get it wrong sometimes

As you probably know, reviews, recommendations and testimonials are a really important part of your marketing.

Customer feedback surveys are a good way to collect these. They are also useful to let you know how your service is perceived and what, if anything, you need to change.

The big brands know this too.

Like me, you probably get followup emails from them asking what you think.

Getting it wrong

Here’s what Amazon sent after I did some of my Christmas shopping there…


While I’m ranting about brochures…

Just half a double-page spread about wheels

Just half a double-page spread about wheels

I’ve recently changed my company car, and I spent a few weeks shopping around to choose a new one.

All the car companies give you glossy brochures. But the ones I saw are ‘top down’ not ‘bottom up’ – they don’t consider the customer journey. (Yes, I did pick that word deliberately.)

Everyone has their own car-buying criteria, but you probably start off with a rough idea of the car you want by size, budget and maybe features such as number of doors or seats.

For me, it’s about the look of the car first, and the ‘feel’ of the car second. For some people it will be the other way round, or maybe it’s the sound of the car that’s more important to them. (more…)

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