You want customers to love you, not just know who you are. You literally have as many brands as you have customers and people who have an impression of you. If those impressions are bad, then your brand is weak. Consider all the brands that you may have created without even knowing it:
You transfer a customer four times to different departments and she never has her problem solved. That’s your brand.
You charge a customer extra for something they thought was included in the original price. That’s your brand.
You replace a defective product but no one apologizes to the customer for his trouble. That’s your brand.
You put a telephone customer on hold for over a minute. That’s your brand.
Your web site is confusing and hard to navigate. That’s your brand.
A repeat customer for many years comes into your store and no one greets her by name. That’s your brand.
Most feelings about brands are based on comparison. You may think that your competitors are the other companies that do what you do, but customers don’t limit their comparisons like that. All customers may know is that someone else in a business completely different from yours did something great for them that you, in their opinion, were unwilling to do. You may not think it’s a fair comparison, but who cares? It’s the customer’s call. Anything that another company does for your customer can have a strong influence on how she rates your brand.
The other company returns my calls within a couple of hours. You usually take at least twenty-four hours.
Everyone at the dry cleaners knows my name. I spend about thirty dollars a week with them. My company spends tens of thousands of dollars every year with you and yet I feel like your employees have no idea who I am.
My stockbroker calls me to see how I’m doing or if I have any questions about how my stocks are performing. You only call me when you want to sell me something.
The owner of the service station came out to the self-service gas pump the other day to tell me how much he appreciates my business. No one in your company has ever made that kind of gesture of appreciation to me.
Encounters like these are what make up an individual’s impression of a company, which then becomes the company’s brand. The lesson that the market teaches is that every single encounter that any customer has with your company is what ultimately makes up your brand. Joe Calloway’s new book “Becoming A Category Of One – How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity And Defy Comparison” available now at Amazon.com