A Better Course

“thou hast councilled a better course than thou hast allowed”

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Soba Conversation

September 11th, 2007 · No Comments

The toilets at Soba are a superb example of a business instigating a conversation with its customers. It’s also almost certainly a mistake.

The door isn’t meant to be a toilet door; it’s got a long, thin window on the left hand side. For the sake of decency, this is covered with paper on the inside, which naturally means that the paper is covered in writing. Most of this is pretty standard for women’s toilets; dates, locations, the information that the sitter loves London. But at head height, someone’s written “Please put a coat / bag hook here!”. Underneath that, someone else has written “Yes!”. There’s still no coat or bag hook.

The great thing about this feedback (and the shame about the staff ignoring it) is that it’s so easy. There is paper where you want to hang your bag, so you write on the paper that you want to hang your bag there. Of course you have a pen – you’ve taken your bag to the toilet.

As a marketer, I’m constantly trying to work out what our current and potential customers have done, what they want to do, and how they think we can help them. There are problems with the data at every level; web analytics packages can only tell you so much, people forget what went wrong while they’re filling out the feedback surveys. What can be done to help people to feed back on a problem as soon as they have it; how can we make telling us what’s wrong and telling us how to fix it as instinctive an action as writing on the only available paper?

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