You walk into a newly opened restaurant. It is bustling with people. You have heard from a friend it has great food. ‘The pricing is a little steep, ‘he added. Weekday was hectic and you would love to have a scrumptious meal. You can already imagine yourself quaffing down large portions of the tender chicken that you so politely declined at a friend’s place because you were saving your stomach for what was to come. You have already made the reservations in advance.
You go to the front desk and come face to face with a brawny shell of a man. ‘I have made a reservation.’ You say. He asks for your name and contact number and impatiently looks through his system. No greeting. ‘Sorry sir, we have no bookings under your name. Please give me your details so I can give you a call when a table is free.’ Strike One. You are confused but it’s too late, you have mentally committed yourself to eating the food here. You wait. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. You request them to take your order before you get a table. They refuse to. Strike two. Your stomach is doing a somersault. You can see food being ordered, customers eating it. It is not helping. You are losing your patience. You are given a table just when you are about to give up. At this point you are so famished even your stomach has given up. After 15 minutes of being served still water and seating you, you place your order. The waiter cannot communicate properly and over the noise you have to raise your voice. No strikes. You give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a busy day.
After another 30 minutes, the food comes. And true to your considerate friends’ word, it looks and tastes great. But was it really the best Tender Chicken you have ever had. Not really. Skipping to the end of the three course meal, you ask for the bill. It would come as no surprise to you that it was presented to you quickly than you can say ‘thank you’. The waiter is standing over your head to be tipped and the sheer pressure makes you take out a few extras quite contradictory to your frugal nature. Strike three? No. Strike three is this- You are getting up and the manager comes over and as politely as his husky voice would allow, he asks you as per the restaurant policy how you liked the food. You start to speak up and he cuts you in the middle and requests you to drop an email regarding that as he had to ‘suddenly’ attend another customer. You are baffled. As you are walking out dazed, you are left wondering about the ‘polite’ mistreatment you got.
Was that entire elaborate experience worth the long walk and wait? Of course not. You curse your friend in your head and pledge to never go back there again. When you are home you go on a social media posting spree about the experience you just had.
That entire story is a hypothetical situation that was elaborated further to give you an idea of a customer towards his product. He comes with certain expectations. The brand must ensure those expectations are completely satisfied. Earlier, the customer believed the mass media and made his purchases. Today in a world of clutter and technology, we look for other means to believe in the product. We go on social media and personal networking (word of mouth) to take opinions.
What a brand delivers is what it builds itself on. It is not what the brand says but what it does that strikes a chord with the target audience. Like the food in the above example, the product may be the best but if it is not serviced in the right way, it damages the brand. The service your brand delivers should be of the quality so that your customer comes for more. In an online portal, a brand can focus on the customer experience of the website i.e., how easy it is to browse and find the right information and support the after sales services. The environment should be user friendly. For example in a place such as a call centre the executive needs to interact with the customer in an impersonal and engaging manner which impresses upon the customer that the company cares. The setup of a retail environment should imitate the value a brand delivers. Thus this can be done by promoting more interaction between the floor shop employees and the customer.
Thus the brand values are only deliverable if the people working for it have an understanding of it. The entire hierarchy must have the right values communicated to them. And only then can a brand make itself the sum total of all the factors that makes it a brand. The food will get digested but did you really digest the bad experience. Don’t wait for the three strikes. Act on it.