Three little words


Lots of pop songs refer to ‘three little words’.

My son and I have a rather juvenile habit. Whenever we are in the car and we hear someone sing these words we shout out ‘Come on Stoke’. It does make us smile.

The singer is of course actually referring to the words ‘I love you’.

That’s the trouble with words…they can mean different things to different people.

At Bromford we are testing out a new role. It’s a colleague who works directly with customers – meeting with them in their homes and communities and developing what we hope will be an increasingly open and honest relationship. The role will build on the findings from a number of new roles we trialed in 2015.

One role we trialed involved working with new customers who hadn’t had a tenancy before to help them get established in their new home. This was called a Starting Well Coach.

Another role focused on customers who had given notice and would soon be moving out of their home. No prizes for guessing what we called this one….yep, a Leaving Well Coach.

The role designed to help unemployed customers find work was called a Skills Coach.

You get the idea.

So this new role we’re testing is designed to see if one person, with the right training and experience, could take the place of all these different roles and work with all the customers living in a particular area and offer support of whatever kind they might need. We’ve been calling this role a Multi-Skilled Coach.

Only the thing is we never end up writing down Multi-Skilled Coach. It is always abbreviated to MSC. That’s the thing with names. Whenever anything has a name or title that contains more than two words we simply don’t seem to be able to resist abbreviating it to the initials. We do it with pop groups, cars, job titles, political parties….All that time spent debating the right words to put together to create the perfect name or title; one that will send out the right message and accurately convey exactly what we want to our target audience…..blown away by this habit of simplifying everything down to a more manageable size.

Have a go at deciphering these. You’ll get some of them very quickly but I bet there are others where you’ll know what they are but will struggle to remember what the initials actually stand for:




How did you get on?

Yes, exactly. That’s why we won’t be calling our new role an MSC…I mean a Multi-Skilled Coach. We thought maybe we could ask some customers what they think it should be called. And since the most important thing is what the people we employ to do this role are like; what they actually do every day; would it really matter if the answer we got was….I don’t know, something like….Housing Officer?!


5 responses to “Three little words

  1. Not still dragging the ‘tenant’/’customer’ thing around are we?? Tenant is a proper legal term. Customer is a relationship term that goes beyond contract.

    And think carefully before ‘HO’. Please. Makes mobile working sound pretty sleezy.

    And move away from ‘Officer’. Just confirms the parent/child, command/control relationship.

    Don’t these MSC’s have people names?


    • Thanks for joining the conversation. We share your view on ‘Officer’ but I guess my point is that we can all get a bit preoccupied with getting the title of jobs just right when what matters far more to a customer is how you behave, whether you do what you say you’ll do, how you leave them feeling. When I think back about a great customer experience I’ve had it’s not the person’s job title I remember but how I was left feeling.


  2. Prefer “Come on You Mighty Mighty Potters” myself!
    Seriously, the use of 3 letter abbrieviations can confuse, e.g. PCC – Police & Crime Commissioner or Parochial Church Council? Can sometimes be used to deliberately confuse?
    As to job titles, to me the key issue has to be whether it describes, in only a few words, what the person does? Mine is Partnerships Officer, and describes reasonably well what I do – none of the implications I think as described above of being an “Officer” since my work is with organisations/groups/communities without the one-to-one work with individual customers/clients/tenants/service users.


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