After my trip abroad, I thought it important to analyze the differences between the U.S. and the UK. Like my previous post, I submit five ideas, concepts or things that each country should take from each other.
1. Take sport more seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, Brits do go absolutely mad over association football (soccer), but their lack of interest in other sports plagues the country when it comes to international competition. In America, sports channel peoples’ competitive spirit. Britain, if it takes more interest, can use sports as another revenue-seeking industry to create jobs, interest, television networks and competition between cities and countries. It’s uncertain how Great Britain will fare in its own 2012 Summer Olympics, but take a look at the championship droughts the national teams are currently facing:
- Last Men’s FIFA World Cup Soccer: 1966
- Summer Olympics most medals: 1908
- Last women’s tennis major winner: 1977 (Virginia Wade)
- Last men’s tennis major winner: 1938 (Fred Perry)
- Last Davis Cup (tennis): 1936
2. Let people live the dream.
There’s no such thing as a British Dream like the American Dream. In America it’s quite easy to go from nobody to a hero, to go from poor to rich and to go from fame to shame. That’s the beauty of America. You can easily create a YouTube video and become famous or even get on television. The Brits, though, rarely care about the promotion of people through such small means. The story of singer Susan Boyle was great, and as you saw on Britain’s Got Talent, the audience treated her poorly before being wowed. I think Americans, though, were the ones who ran with the story and promoted her. Celebrities in the UK, or London at least, are seen as everyday people unlike the U.S.
3. Improve customer service.
Customer service is one of America’s largest services and employment sectors, but in the UK, this is not the case. My experiences in the UK with customer service were not great, and figuring out a situation was by self trial and error. Going out to eat in London, you usually have to track down the waiter/waitress if you need something. You don’t get a refill unless you ask, you can’t get the check if you are ready to leave, but the good thing is, you don’t have to tip usually. Another poor customer service situation involved calling the O2 (cell phone) customer service. My simple problem of checking monthly minutes turned into a lengthy call-on-hold with British background music. I’m not saying that the U.S. does not have these customer service problems, but we take more pride in serving others. For many businesses in the U.S. such as cell phone or Internet service, customer service usually factors into which provider one chooses.
4. Remove graduate training programs.
As you probably know, I interned at a media planning and buying agency in London. Some of the employees at the agency were recent graduates around my age. In the U.S. in the 1980’s, agencies used to have graduate training programs to provide recent graduates with experience. The U.S. got rid of that because internship programs allow current students to apply real-world experience with their collegiate studies. Internships are best for students because they are temporary and bridge the gap between school years. It also weeds out those who have not obtained internship experience. So, when we apply for jobs in the U.S., internship experience shows ambition, passion and responsibility to further a career. In Britain, this does not set you apart from others because everyone has to go through a training program. By eliminating training programs, internships can replace or at least give a head start for those seeking experience.
5. Take more of a leadership role diplomatically.
As I see it, Britain seems to take a follower or echoing role when handling worldwide situations. President Obama seems like the spokesperson for the world, even in UK news outlets. The UK might not be the world’s most powerful country, but because of it is history and international relations, it should not be on the back burner when speaking about issues. For the recent revolution in Libya, Obama has taken the role to call for Qaddafi’s resignation. British Prime Minister David Cameron instead is dealing with the News of the World hackings and London riots. The president of the U.S. will probably always have first say in response to worldwide events, but as an ally and sister country, the UK should share this role.