CAMPAIGNDIRECT: SHOPPING WITH CAMPAIGN - Customer carelines/As Campaign once again pits rival companies against one another, media editor Claire Beale decides to find out exactly what customer carelines can do for her

Those who know me might argue that there are many reasons why I should be seeking help. However, my choice of coffee or my brand of deodorant would probably not be at the top of the list. But I was curious to find out why so many products now come with a helpline. Is it simply lip-service to the trend for better customer communications or are consumers really calling out for assistance?

Those who know me might argue that there are many reasons why I

should be seeking help. However, my choice of coffee or my brand of

deodorant would probably not be at the top of the list. But I was

curious to find out why so many products now come with a helpline. Is it

simply lip-service to the trend for better customer communications or

are consumers really calling out for assistance?



McVitie’s Biscuits



The phone was answered even before I heard it ring. Do McVitie’s

Wholewheat Biscuits contain any genetically modified ingredients, I

asked? Anita, the operator, didn’t hesitate - rest assured biscuit

addicts everywhere, McVitie’s follows a non-GM policy. Anita had clearly

been briefed on this hot potato, though she was a bit miffed when I

asked her what else she could do for me. ’We’re basically here to help,

we’re not just a complaints line.’



Pret A Manger



Next, Campaign’s favourite sandwich shop (well, there’s not much choice

in Hammersmith). The phone line (not freephone, this one) was answered

by a voice which didn’t identify that this was the helpline or to whom I

was speaking. Not a great start, but it got much better.



My question was about the calorie content of sandwiches. There’s nothing

in-store to tell me which fillings are the most sympathetic to my thighs

but my careline operator, Rose, listed those which filled my low-cal

brief (no-mayo chicken is the best bet) and told me that more

calorie-conscious lines were being developed and in-store nutritional

information was imminent.



Nescafe Gold Blend



The Gold Blend ads have a heavy sexual overtone. Am I guaranteed to get

a man if I give him a cup, I asked my friendly line operator,

Louise?



I don’t think many people ask this question - she was a bit shocked, but

admitted that the answer was, unfortunately, no. Louise said that many

people ring the helpline for advice on special offers, but didn’t know

how many labels I’d need to collect to be ready for the next one, ’Some

people have thousands, though.’



Sure Deodorant



Help - how do I stop my deodorant from staining my clothes? My operator

advised I try their new bigger ball, just stroke on and leave to dry for

a few minutes. She took me through ways to wash out deodorant marks and,

despite working for a Unilever helpline, recommended Procter & Gamble’s

Ariel to lift out those stubborn stains. Nice to know that corporate

politics don’t get in the way of genuine help.