Saturday, 13 September 2014

Who Ya Gonna Call?

David writes…

Give us a call.

Let’s talk it over.

We’ll get the right walk and the right guide just for your group.

Ring Mary* on 020 7624 3978.

(The above four lines are a straight lift from the London Walks leaflet.)

Remember service like that? Friendly, intelligent, helpful, personal service.

Yeah, personal. A real person on the end of the line.


Talking to a real person. A real person who can actually help you with your problem. A real person who can answer your question(s). Give you the information you want. Talk things through. Correct a mistake. Put things right.

Remember? Good wasn’t it?

As opposed to the new, “improved” way of doing things. The “impose the cost on the customer” modus operandi. You know, “externalize the costs”, as the Business School parlance puts it. Shifting the cost of customer service to customers. Make customers do the paying. Make them lose – spend – large amounts of time trying to get through to a live person who can sort things out.


You’d make a call and the telephone would be answered by a real person, not a voice recording. And the person who answered could put things right for you. There was no menu of half a dozen or more items from which to select. No waiting another quarter of an hour while being given sales pitches. Or worse, Muzak punctuated with one of those idiotic recordings, “your call is important to us…” Oh, for sure. But not important enough for you not to keep me hanging on 20 minutes.

Remember? Good wasn’t it?

A thing of the past now, isn’t it?

Or is it?

Nearly extinct – the Darwinian “externalize costs” iron law has all but done for it.

But not everywhere. Not here, for example. Not at London Walks. You ring us – on 020 7624 3978 – you’re going to get a live person. You’re going to get Mary.

Or Fiona. Or Maxine. Or Esther. Or Katy. Or me, David.

You’re going to get a real person – a live person – who will “talk it over with you”, who can do something about your query.

Sure. It’d be dead easy to go the recorded announcement-menu-of-options-infuriating-sales-pitch-while-your-time-bleeds-away route.  (Dead all right – that really is the mot juste, isn’t it?)

Not going to, though. Sod it, we don’t want to live or work like that. Don’t want  to turn our tiny little patch of ground into that. Our garden. See how our garden grows. See what grows in it. We’re not going to GM it.

And, yes, it means higher costs and less profit.

But so what?

London Walks has never cared about making the most money. What we care about is being the best urban walking tour company in the world.

Bottom line – bottom line indeed – we’re aggressively non-commercial. And proud of it.

Give us a call. Talk it over. Talk it over with Mary. Or Fiona. Or Maxine. Or Esther. Or Katy. Or Noel. Or me, David.

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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