Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

One of the worst branding mistakes you can make is not putting yourself through the same processes and procedures that make up your customers’ experiences with your brand. Two recent examples come to mind – one local, one national.

1. A local bank holds our mortgage and we are refinancing. The process had been going great with just the kind of service and brand experience you would expect from a town bank – personal but professional. So we were surprised and disappointed to see a $250 charge on our paperwork that we hadn’t been told about. To be fair, yes, the charge was disclosed in the fine print, which of course was the first thing we were told. The “fine print” response is what you expect from a giant national bank not a local, town bank. The only response we got was an apology and a thank you for “letting us know about this so we won’t make the mistake other customers.” In one day, a few hours actually, the brand image they had instilled in us over many years was compromised.

2. AT&T Yahoo. This one probably doesn’t surprise anyone. For a month they have been badgering us to make a setting change in our email program to coincide with a security upgrade. Fine, I’ll do that. The problem, they seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent me from doing it – and anger me in the process. From useless (for my operating system – Mac OSX and mail client -Mail) directions on web pages and endless voice mail prompts to absurd “AT&T Yahoo internet services are so popular all our technicians are busy” messages and unintelligible help recordings, the process has been the very definition of brand damage. The only positive experience was with their live chat feature – but the technician ultimately had to admit she didn’t know Macs and gave me the Mac helpline number…which wasn’t. This company has no idea what their customer brand experience is like nor do they seem to care.

The moral of the story? With just a little effort you can prevent a serious branding misstep just by trying things out. Walk in the front door of your store and think like a customer. Call your own customer service line and see what happens. Listen to what your employees are saying. Actually try the technical solutions you tell customers to try. Your brand will thank you.

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