If you're a British financial-services customer contacting a call center, you're likely to be happier if the person answering the phone has a Scottish accent, rather than any other accent, according to Khalid Aziz, chairman of Hampshire, U.K.-based executive communications consultancy The Aziz Corporation. "Within Anglo-Saxon culture, Scottish accents are imbued with a certain brand value for things like probity and financial caution," says Aziz. "People are more inclined to feel their inquiry is being dealt with sensibly and responsibly - people trust that sort of accent."
That bias was demonstrated in a survey last fall sponsored by The Aziz Corporation that rated U.K. accents for their business appeal. Scottish accents scored highly across the board: 43 percent of respondents judged speakers of such accents as likely to be successful; 40 percent found them hardworking and reliable; and 31 percent found them the most trustworthy. By contrast, the Liverpool "scouse" accent scored worst: only 15 percent of the survey's participants believed scouse speakers were successful; just 9 percent said they were hardworking and reliable; and only 8 percent regarded them as honest and trustworthy. The London "cockney" accent showed mixed results: respondents associated it with both a degree of success and a tendency toward unscrupulous dealings. When it comes to call centers, the Scots have a rival in the extreme Northeast of England; the "geordie" accent, which is characteristic of Newcastle natives, is a "warmer, caring, wrap-your-arms-around-you sort of accent," Aziz asserts. For global financial-services firms considering setting up call centers outside the primary area of business, these perceptions are important to take into consideration.