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Our experience as customers offers great instruction into the
concept of branding. Come with me on a recent "experience" and
you'll see what I mean. Here's the situation:

I want to order an 800 number. On my telephone bill is a customer
services number. I call it. A voice mail gives four options.
None of which I want. Just TRY to get a representative. I am
instructed to dial another number. I am given three options.
Hit 0 for operator and the disembodied voice says I have called
after hours. The hours are 7am - 10pm, Monday-Friday, Eastern
Standard Time.

Fine. It is now 4am Monday in California. They should be open.
By 4:30am in CA I have called repeatedly and punched in all the
prompts until I am ready to punch someone. I am still told by a
disembodied voice that the offices are closed. I try another
number. This time, I reach a computer voice.

Computer: "I'll try and help you. Tell me in your own words
what you want."

Me: "Toll free service."

Computer: "I'm sorry. I did not understand. Let me tell you
what services we offer..."

Me: "I want a person"

Computer: "Tell me, in your own words, what you want."

Me: "Toll free service!"

Computer: "I am sorry. I do not understand what you want."

Me: (screaming) "I want a person."

Computer: "I am sorry. I..."

SLAM!!!!

I call 00 in frustration. "Operator!!"

Operator: "How can I help?"

Me: "I have been trying without luck to get someone in customer
service. I have been caught in a voice mail hell with an
atavistic voice. How do I talk to a person?"

Operator: "I am sorry you are having problems. You can talk to
a supervisor."

Supervisor: "Can I help you?"

Me: (heatedly) "I want to ask about a toll free number. I have
dialed three numbers and cannot get in. It says the offices open
at 7am and now it's almost 8am EST!"

Supervisor: "Oh, sometimes they forget to turn off that message
so the phones can ring through. We have to call and tell them."

Me: (incredulously) "You mean the PHONE company has employees
who do NOT know their first order of business is to turn on
phones to answer customers!"

Supervisor: (calmly) "I am sorry. Let me give you a different
number than the one you have been calling. You need to call the
office for telephone 1-800 Easy Reach.

"Easy Reach?!??!?" Who are they trying to kid! I call this
"Impossible to Reach".

Branding Lesson #1: Your name sets up an expectation. Live up
to it or suffer.

There is a promise established in what we advertise and name
things. Southwest Airlines had thought to create a baggage claim
delivery time slogan. Then they realized that due to the
configuration in a few of their terminals, to quote such a time
was almost impossible. They dropped the campaign even though it
would have been true in MOST of their sites.

Branding Lesson #2: Your business sets up an expectation. If you
don't deliver for yourself - how can you deliver for the
customer?

A phone company that doesn't answer the phones is a scary
thought. We'd expect it of any other business, but the phone
company!! If you own a paint store and your store is in sorry
need of paint, what does that say? If the waiters in a
restaurant cannot tell you about food on the menu because they
never get to eat it, what does that say? Look at your business
with critical eyes. Would you do business with you?

Branding Lesson #3: The past never counts. The present creates
the brand.

It is the actual in-the-moment experience that creates a brand
in a customer's eyes. Brand is a living entity that is re-
earned, renewed, or revoked with every interaction. Advertising
only creates awareness. I am convinced the very best, most
unique, most competitive maker of a "brand" is the well-trained,
empowered employee who can disregard systems and procedures in
order to continue a human interaction. As more organizations
substitute technology for people, the company that answers its
own phone and get humans connected in short order will win the
day.

-------------------------------

Eileen McDargh is founder of McDargh Communications, a
consulting and training company specializing in inner and
interpersonal skill development for the purpose of improving the
life of a business and the business of life. Visit Eileen at
http://www.EileenMcDargh.com or
http://www.theresilientspirit.com.

(c) 2003, McDargh Communications. All rights reserved.

Reprints are appreciated and must include byline, contact
information and copyright.




 
This article was submitted by - Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE Please Rate/Review this Article - Recommend it to friends

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