Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What can we learn about speechwriting from two cartoons about customer service?

How a speech gets written will differ depending on the intended audience. Last month I found a pair of cartoons with very different approaches to the same topic. Both talked about navigating the customer service maze, but otherwise they were wildly different.

One cartoon was in Dave Kellett’s Sheldon: It’s Time to Play the Customer Service Call Center Game. The other was in Matthew Inman’s Oatmeal: Why I’d Rather Be Punched in the Testicles than Call Customer Service.

Dave’s cartoon is light hearted and brief. If it were a movie, it would have a G (General audiences, all ages) rating. Matthew’s is serious and lengthy; he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. If it were a movie, it would have an R (Restricted, children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent) rating. Perhaps some of the difference in attitude is that Dave lives in sunny Los Angeles, while Matthew lives in gray, rainy Seattle.

Another difference between Dave’s and Matthew’s cartoons is that Dave just takes you around a circle, but Matthew eventually gets his problem resolved. He has to put up with a lot of crap first though, like being asked:

“...Can I get your
first name
phone number
date of birth
favorite planet in the solar system
and least favorite African mammal.
I won’t actually log this information,
mind you, so you’ll have to repeat it
to every other operator I forward you to.”

There’s another Oatmeal cartoon on How to Make Your Shopping Cart Suck Less.

The board image originally was titled Game of the District Messenger Boy.

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