Friday, November 19, 2010

KeFactors Friday: When your brand sucks (and when it doesn’t)

Would you ever do this?

You buy an expensive car and outfit it with luxurious upholstery and fittings.
Experts tell you it’s imminently road-worthy and could take you far.

Then you hand the keys over to a randomly selected group of strangers. You
don’t explain anything about the condition in which this car should be maintained, figuring “common sense” will guide that. You look away when it’s clear some of these drivers aren’t fit to drive, either from inexperience or irresponsible behavior. When wrecks occur, you expend a great deal of money to repair the car and appease the other injured party, but do little more than a perfunctory rehabilitation of the driver behind the wheel.

Asking the question again: would you ever say this?

“I believe in XYZ for my cell phone and wifi needs. Sure, they’re more expensive
than anyone else and they never return my calls, but I figure it’s worth it because of their name. They’re often late for service calls and sometimes they get my bill wrong. When I ask for customer service I’m treated with indifference, sometimes rudeness, but what the heck, they’re a big name.”

Organizations spend huge dollars to create brand identity, but let’s face it: human
beings are not loyal to brands but to people. Behind every brand are touchpoints who enliven your identity as an organization. If you, as a leader, are not specific and concrete in your vision of what the brand means, and how the customer should experience it, then you’re bound to sabotage your own vision.

I drive past three competing groceries to shop at my local Publix. Their brand is
based on friendly service and reasonable pricing, but their credo — “where shopping is a pleasure” — is spelled out in actionable terms for the employee. If a customer asks you where to find a certain product, stop what you’re doing and don’t just point them to the aisle. Escort them there, and show it to them. Even if you can’t spell out every touchpoint, having enough in hand sets the bar to which employees can respond to customer needs. Final question: What is your customer’s experience of your particular brand, and do your employees know how to make that experience come alive in a positive way?

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