Dealing with apathy: How Branding can unleash the SuperHero in all of us!

Customer complaints are vital. It tells us how we are doing and it gives us the opportunity to solve problems.
Customers that raise complaints want immediate results but at the same time, are giving us the chance to show that we are worthy of getting their business. When customers stop complaining, this is sign that customers have given up on us.

In fact do you know what is worse than a customer complaining?
A customer that does not complain (…and walks).

We hear the cliché that ‘Customers comes first’ or ‘The customer is number one’ but those clichés remain clichés unless the brand has the ability to deliver SOUL in our day-to-day transactions.

In simple terms, the Soul is what the brand represents…it’s the promise delivered every day. This is what a Marketing leader must convey but at times when it comes to frontline staff talking or meeting customers that ‘fire in the belly’ or that brand soul may not come across loud and clear when its desperately needed. This is an area where Branding can help.

Let me give you an example (yes banking).

I deal with a bank that it based in a country that has received a lot of attention lately. The staff are great helpful and courteous. So far, so good.

4 years ago my debit card had to be renewed and the bank rep told me that I needed to wait for my new card. After 1 week I called and they told me ‘nope not ready yet’- pretty impractical since if I wanted money, I needed to go in person in a branch to get cash ( when was the last time you did that?).
After another week – same answer and they could not tell me. Well this went on for total of 6 weeks when the paperwork or ‘form’ was lost or whatever (remember, I’m a customer – I really don’t care of the reason) I finally get my card.

In my next meeting with the Branch manager I tell him ‘Catalin, you’ve got great people at this bank but unfortunately your processes suck…’ I was sincere. How is it possible that a client has to wait 6 weeks to get a renewed card?’

Fast forward 4 years now. Same bank!

They called up my friend who recently traveled to Dubai and told her that because of recent fraud issues in Dubai, they strongly recommended to her to cancel her card and to get another one. That’s pretty progressive right? A bank calling you to deter potential fraud.
My friend agreed and also agreed to go to a nearest branch to fill out a form to get her card renewed.
At this point I started to worry!

It took 5 weeks to get a renewed card after multiple calls – probably for the same reason…again we don’t care about the reasons – we’re the customer.
When we went to a branch in Baneasa mall and spoke to a bright looking fellow and my friend told him the story about the card. Then I added then . ‘Yep in my case 4 years ago I had to wait 6 weeks.’
We were pretty cool and not upset by this point.
His reaction? ‘Humm’ is what he said, his head nodded, then went back to filling the form.

Not ‘well we’re really sorry about this’
Not ‘well let me look into this…this is unacceptable to make customers wait 5-6 weeks to get card’
Not ‘I will look into this and get back to you’ or…at the minimum…’I will report this to our customer care team and I will ensure that someone calls you to give you an update/explanation. I will personally follow up with our customer care department to make sure someone gets back to you’
In other words…Initiative, attention to the customer and a bit of empathy (not apathy).

Ok you’re going to tell me Paul this is a customer care issue and the bank probably needs to take care of its customer care policy or this your fellow was not properly trained or worse… this is Romania. NOT!

I don’t agree. Before that fellow gets on the phone and follows Customer care procedures, he needs to WANT to get on the phone and put out this fire! Training is important but you can’t train people to HAVE the initiative. This has to come from the soul; the soul is what the brand is all about.
In other words are people going to kill themselves to solve this problem? If so, THAT my friend is brand loyalty and brand affinity.

I had the pleasure of working for brands that I wanted to kill myself for those brands; I wanted to please my customer and I wanted to make a difference.

Why? Well because I felt part of the brand. When I showed people my business card I was proud that I worked for Bell Mobility, Connex or Orange. It was a cool place to work; we were going to ‘invade the nation’ with this brand and unbeknownst to me, the Marketing leaders at the time (Tim McChesney, Aneta Bogdan and Paul Phillips in this order) had managed to instill that sense of pride, joy and the SOUL that made me wake up every morning and do the best for our brand!

A little naive?
Want more proof?
I challenge you to listen to any interview of an Apple employee that was involved in the IPod, IPhone or IPad. Look at how their face lights up when they explain how much they were part of the Apple development team. Of course Steve Jobs made this an amazing place to work but Apple employees are passionate. We don’t all work for Apple but the same unbridled enthusiasm is possible for you, the Marketing Leader to instill regardless if you sell paints, pharmaceuticals or yogurt.
The brand makes it happen.

Follow my next post as I describe areas where as a Marketing Leader, you can unleash this SOUL so that your team members actually enjoy killing themselves for the brand.

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