Have you ever had the experience where you buy a product or service, only to call the customer service number and feel like you’ve been let down? I’m not necessarily referring to horrible customer service, but something a little more tricky to define. Maybe you’re not sure why you felt let down. But gosh darnit, when you took the trouble to call the brand, you expected more. And when you didn’t get it, you felt a little deflated. Like, where was that enthusiastic guy from the TV ads who promised you that you’re more than just a number? Was he kidnapped and replaced with a generic recording that told you to wait, and then further replaced with a generic agent who politely, yet unmemorably, answered your questions? Maybe you listened to a brand’s invitation to call them “to talk,” but then when you called, they didn’t seem to have anything new to say.
Of course many of us have had this kind of experience. It’s a lot more subtle than the customer service disaster, but equally damning for a brand that wants to distinguish itself. When you think about it, it kinda boggles the mind. Brands spend time, energy, and treasure crafting a unique brand promise about what makes them stand out from the pack, only to deliver a brand experience that reinforces the message that they’re just more of the ho hum, same ol’ same ol’.
Recently I had the nifty opportunity to conduct an admittedly un-scientific, yet totally fun audit of a variety of cell phone companies in my local market. What I was looking for was how well these organizations had aligned their online and phone experiences with their overall brand promise, or even their brand “vibe.” What I found was not surprising, but interesting nonetheless.