You are the weakest link…goodbye!

Aggressive Business Woman Screaming into the Phone. Pop Art. Vector illustration

I’ve had a bad brand experience, and it surprised me. It surprised me because I expected better.

It’s a big brand phone company (I won’t name it), blue chip, big budget. We’ve had a business relationship for 11 years.

My device was long overdue an upgrade. It’s not something I enjoy hence the reason it was overdue. But I took 45 minutes out of my day to talk through the options. Much longer than was necessary I thought since our needs as a business were very simple. But hey, job done, move on. Await new device and start of a new contract.

I receive regular text messages for a couple of weeks on the status of my new device and then they stopped.

I call customer service to find out where the phone is; first they think I’ve received it, then they say it’s with another department; then they say they will check and get back to me. I hear nothing.

So, I decide it’s time to make a written complaint and I am surprised by the disparity in the brand experience.

Their marketing is quirky, fun, warm, personal. There’s customer perks. Their brand is consistent through TV, in-store, posters.

But what when there’s a problem? How does the brand act then?

For me the test of a company’s brand is not when things are going well but when there’s a problem – when it’s all going well, that’s the easy bit, but when things go wrong that’s how you can really judge company.

My expectations … acknowledge that I’ve had a bad experience and my time is important, apologise for the disruption, recognise that we are a long-standing  customer, resolve the situation quickly and painlessly.

How it really went …

  • The response to my complaint was accurate; a reply was promptly received. A good start.
  • But when I disagree with their solution this is where I am left feeling indifferent.  A couple of telephone conversations are enough to convince me that our 11 years of loyal business counts for nothing, and it’s clear that our business is no longer required; at least that’s how I feel. And it’s how I feel that’s key.
  • No recognition of the years of loyalty
  • No genuine solution
  • No genuine respect of my time
  • No brand consistency – particularly in the tone of their conversations; it didn’t align with the brand at all

Now I’ve had cause for complaint before with a large corporate brand; but the experience was different and how I felt at the end of it was very different too.

I am an intelligent woman; I am polite; and it is my natural state to try to help, so I ask “how can you make this experience better for customers?”

One global corporate brand says: thank you for your suggestion; we are authorised to submit feedback/ideas to our management team. These are reviewed frequently, and if suitable they will be implemented; may I put this suggestion forward for you?” “Of course” I say; feeling like I’ve been heard. And lo and behold I find that my suggestion is actually implemented. I feel proud; like I am making a difference and helping other customers receive a better service. It makes me feel good.

Phone provider; “I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do, I don’t have access to the systems. You will just have to ring and go through the process again” And that’s it.

If there is one question that any brand can ask it’s  …. How do you make your customers feel throughout their whole lifetime with you? Because the most engaging and successful brands know what they need to do to make you feel just right.

And in this case I was meant to feel like our business did not matter, so thank you phone company for 11 years but you are now the weakest link…goodbye!

Karen Lambert is a creative thinker, experienced strategic marketer, founder and Managing Director of Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Lancashire.

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You are the weakest link…goodbye!
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