“One of the biggest challenges The First Word has helped us overcome is ensuring we follow a consistent tone of voice, without compromising each writer’s unique personality. In fact, they’ve encouraged this to come out more!”
Abu Siddeeq
Customer Experience Manager, GWR

In our words

Great Western Railway (GWR) has a history of great writing, from charming guidebooks like ‘The Unrivalled Holiday-Lands of the GWR’ to affectionate nicknames like the Great Way Round.

That was in the early 20th century. Today the industry is (in)famous for a different type of language: railspeak. Our challenge was to get rid of jargon like “there has been an overrun to this service due to insufficient rolling stock” and put pride – and plain English – back into GWR’s writing.

We did this by improving the language at every point in the customer journey (pun intended).



Our team:

  • streamlined 900 inconsistent customer service templates into a well-written, well-organised library of 150
  • ran letter and email training across GWR’s network of customer contact centres, from Plymouth to Paddington
  • rewrote everything from marketing copy about Pullman, Britain’s only high-speed dining car, to GWR’s Passenger Charter.

Our writing has been praised by the regulator for being clear and customer-friendly. And we’re delighted to say our work with GWR won silver for Best Use of Copy Style / Tone of Voice at the 2016 Transform Awards.

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