Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Opportunity missed to reinforce brand

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Most companies work hard to create and build their brand. Countless hours are put into naming, positioning, colors, design, typefaces, scripts, education, promotions and more.

It was on a family vacation this summer when I happened to make my way to a Fuddruckers restaurant near Des Moines, IA. We stopped into Fuddruckers because we knew they made a great hamburger, had comfortable seating and was kid-friendly (in menu and seating). We didn’t have a lot of time to visit a restaurant with table service, but we also wanted more than your typical fast-food joint. Fuddruckers fit the bill perfectly. No table service, but restaurant-style seating, great atmosphere with engaging decorating and TVs, kids activity menus and of course, really great hamburgers — made-to-order.

All of our expectations were met during our visit. However, on our way out of the restaurant is where the company missed the opportunity to reinforce their brand.

As we left, it was raining heavily. I was making a final purchase of some cookies to go and was talking with the sales associate ringing up my purchase. As we both looked outside at the drenching rain, jokingly, I asked if they had valet parking service. I wasn’t too excited to get soaking wet with 2 more hours of driving to our next destination. The sales associate replied, “Oh no, we are just a glorified McDonald’s.”

As I ran out the door to get into my urban-assault-vehicle (minivan to most people) to pick up the family at the door, I felt cheated. I had just spent almost $50 for really good burgers for my family of six. With that comment, I was left with the thought I over-paid for the meal and experience that I could have gotten at a fast food restaurant.

While the comment didn’t change my perception of the restaurant–I would eat there again for the same reasons outlined above–the company failed in communicating their customer value to their employees.

To protect your brand, you need to make sure everyone is aware of the value you provide your customers. This is most important with those employees that have contact with customers. If your employees are not espousing your brand attributes, then they are detracting from all the efforts your marketing is trying to create. Get your employees on board and they will help to be your brand evangelists.

What would I have thought about Fuddruckers had that sales associate said, “No we don’t have valet service, but I could go bring your vehicle up to the door for you if you’d like.” Or, “No but we should have valet service, especially on days like today.” Now either of those replies would have made an impression on me, reinforcing their brand as the World’s Greatest Hamburgers…even if it was an offer I probably would not have accepted.

Take every opportunity to exceed your customer’s expectations and you will build upon your brand.

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Name your company…a price?

Monday, December 22, 2008

mmind_ds

Naming a product or even your company can be a daunting task. What I am astonished by is when price becomes the name. When you name your company with a price, you eliminate your ability to add future value to your customer and worse yet, the ability to raise prices.

Inevitably you will have to increase your price to stay profitable. After months or even years of establishing your brand–which is based on a price–among your loyal customers, a change in the price of your product will cause confusion.

Take, for example this message that came across our paging system the other day. “5 Buck Pizza is here. Come to the front desk and pay seven dollars to get your 5 Buck Pizza.” We all had a chuckle at how that sounded. But from a marketers perspective, what a challenge that now poses.

5 Buck Pizza is small regional pizza chain in the Intermountain West. But larger companies are not immune to taking this strategy. Take Arby’s 5 for $5 that had been promoted which is now transformed into 5 for $5.95. While it is a different promotion/product offering altogether, the message to the consumer of 5 for some dollar amount has now changed. I suspect it will change in the future.

There are other guidelines you should follow when naming your company or product. And avoiding price is one of those key guidelines. For a review of other guidelines and discussions, these links may be helpful.

Strategic Name development

The New Rules of Naming

Igor Naming Guide

Online Brand Names

Is customer service worth a penny?

Thursday, September 25, 2008
United States Penny

United States Penny

Just this week I reconciled my credit card statement and noticed I had been billed an extra penny on one charge. I got to thinking, “it’s just a penny. Do I really want to go through the hassle for that penny?” Well, as the saying goes, a penny found is a penny earned. And unfortunately, I had to earn this penny by dealing with my credit card’s customer service department.

Customer Service is an extension of one’s brand. If your customer’s experience with your service department is anything but positive, you are sure to damage your brand image in the mind of that consumer. For Capital One, it took 20 minutes and one penny to tarnish my thought of a quality credit card company. The business rules you write for your customer service department need to be reasonable and your employees need to be trained. Failure in either of these areas could cost you business.

Now, I’ve been a long time customer of Capital One and have paid my share of interest over the years. So I figure myself to be a pretty good customer. I’ve paid my bills on time and have rarely had to contact customer service. I wondered just how hard it would be to earn my penny.

First off, it took several menus to get to the “speak to a customer representative” statement. I should have known better to just hit zero, but I didn’t. I’ll take that mistake on myself.

After hitting zero on the phone, a pleasant female voice takes my call and I explain my situation that I was billed $38.23 instead of $38.22 as my receipt shows. The purchase was made online from a mass-retailer for some digital photos I had printed and mailed to my address. An additional receipt was included with my prints. She asked if I had contacted the retailer. I said no, it was the credit card with which I had an issue. I was placed on hold for about 30 seconds.

All of a sudden a gentleman answers the phone wanting to know how he can help. I stated that I was already being helped and I do not know why I was transferred to him. He assured me that he could help. So, I explained my situation again. And again, I was put on hold. Less than a minute later, he returned telling me he was going to transfer me to the dispute department.

I reminded him that he assured me that he could take care of my issue. He said he is only able to write off anything under $10.

“You realize that this is only one penny,” I asked.

He assured me the dispute department would be able help me. I got Peter’s name and also asked for his last name. He refused and instead offered is ID number. Apparently it is against Capital One’s policy to give out your last name.  It is just first name and ID number. Peter assured me he would talk with the department first to explain my situation so I would not have to go through all of the explanation myself.

Next, I spoke with Rudy and his ID number in the dispute department.  Peter did a fine job of relaying my information. And of course, Rudy assured me he could take care of my issue….after some further qualification as to who I was. For security purposes I suppose.

“You were billed an extra penny?” Rudy asked.

“Yes, Rudy, It is one penny and three people later,” I replied. “Can you take care of this one penny?”

After another hold, Rudy returned and said that the penny will be adjusted and that my next statement will show the correct.

So after about 20 minutes, I earned my penny back. At 3 cents an hour, I would earn $62.40 a year. But, how much did it cost Capital One? For one, I don’t ever want to call their customer service. Of course, maybe they don’t want me to either. Secondly, if their customer service is this poor for one penny, what might it be like should I have a real claim, a lost card, fraudulent transaction, stolen identity, etc. They have certainly lost my confidence in them.

Will this event change my behavior and force me to choose another credit card? I’m not sure it has come to that. But I have certainly begun to think if Capital One remains as whats in my wallet.