April 18, 2012
With brands, like most other things, who you want to be and who you are, are sometimes very different.
It’s human nature. We rarely see ourselves as we really are. We prefer to see ourselves as we’d like to be: 20 pounds lighter, 10 years younger, with a full head of hair, more attractive to the opposite sex, blah blah blah. The same can be said for CEOs, CMOs and the like — as it relates to how they want their companies and their brands to be perceived: Client centric (all about the customer experience in today’s parlance), innovative, nimble, approachable, likeable, blah blah blah.
But whether you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, visualizing a hot blonde in a mini skirt instead of a plump matron in a Hilary Clintonesque pant suit, or you’re a head honcho briefing the agency, wishing does not make it so!!
What I am talking about is ‘authentic’ brands. The real thing.
Like Apple. Yes, they are innovative. Yes, they are all about the customer experience. Yes, they are friendly. Yes, they do make it really simple to use and enjoy their products. Yes, they are insanely great. At all of the above — and at customer service and problem resolution and anything else you might think of. And yes, their advertising totally reflects their philosophy, their products, their commitment, their passion, blah blah blah.
Unfortunately there aren’t many Apples.
Think of the companies you do business with. Who’s your wireless provider? Who’s your telco? Where do you bank? What soap do you use? What cereal do you eat? Now think of their advertising. Do you think it’s consistent with your experience with that company or brand?
Okay, while you’re re-running commercials in your head I’m going to tell you a story:
It’s tax time. For many good reasons despite the fact that I’ve lived in Toronto since 1985 I still have an accountant in Montreal. This past Monday (April 16) I was ready to send him all my tax stuff. Because I wanted to give him as much time as possible (April 30 is fast approaching), I decided to send it overnight courier. Usually I use FedEx or UPS, but on Monday I was rushing to get to a client’s office for a meeting. On my way I passed a business supply store and thought: “Hmmm, wonder if they have a courier depot in there.” Some of them, like Staples, do.
Sure enough they did. DHL (for overseas) and Loomis for domestic. I arranged for, and paid for, overnight service with delivery before noon the next day.
I have to admit there were a couple of times during the transaction where that inner voice we often pay no attention to, was whispering in my ear. But I ignored it. So when I got home at around 5:30 I decided to go online and track my shipment — to see if it had actually been picked up from the store. The url the guy in the store had given me was wrong. So I called the store and was given an 800 number to call.
Here’s where the brand part comes in:
While I was on hold for 25 minutes (before I hung up) I was forced to listen to what I can only describe as ‘commercials’: “Receive your shipment on time for your afternoon meeting”. “Reliable service door-to-door”. “Attention and careful handling”.
- I called 3 times. Each time I was on hold for at least 25 minutes before I hung up.
- I finally figured out the correct url and on Tuesday went online 5 times to try and track my shipment. The only information available was that the package was picked up from the store. I called my accountant at 5:30 and he had not received it.
- I called the 800 number and was on hold for 20 minutes before I hung up.
- I called the store. They called somebody and called me back with a reference number and an assurance that a ‘tracer’ had been put on the shipment. I was also assured I’d be called within 4 business hours with news.
- It is now Wednesday. I went online this morning and this time instead of tracking by the waybill number I tried to track by the reference number. No such number existed. So then I tried the waybill number. Same info as Tuesday.
- I called the 800 number. Definitely getting tired of their commercials that promise all that good stuff. Thankfully I was only on hold about 10 minutes this time.
- Told the rep my sad tale of woe. Was told that the individual who was tracing my shipment would not be in for another 20 minutes. I left my number. 65 minutes later he called me. Asked for Monica. Despite the fact that he was looking at a paperwork that had my name on it, he couldn’t get my name straight. That did not bode well for my package.
- About 30 minutes later another ‘tracer’ person called me. She asked for Ivan. Seems she couldn’t get my name straight either.
Attention and careful handling? Reliable service? Are you kidding me? But there’s more:
- ‘Tracer’ person #1 assured me he would call me throughout the day to check in, even if he had no news.
- At 2:30, having not heard from anyone, I called him and left a message.
- At 3:30, I blocked the caller I.D. on my phone and called back. Lo and behold he answered. No news. No information either because he informed me that his supervisor had taken over the case. Probably because I told them I’d be giving them a free ad campaign on social media if they didn’t find my shipment — pronto. Canada Revenue isn’t going to cut me any slack because Loomis lost my receipts.
- Oh yes, ‘Tracer #1 also told me that they couldn’t do a thorough search of their facility because they didn’t have enough staff available; and they’d have to wait until they had more staff. When might that be? Your guess is as good as mine.
Attention and careful handling? Reliable service?
What do you think? Does Loomis Express have an authentic brand? (Still haven’t heard a word, by the way. It is now 5:20 on Wednesday).
Filed under marketing.