The basic idea behind “brand alignment” is pretty simple – When it comes to delivering on your marketing promises, make sure everyone in your organization knows what’s going on and they’re able to walk the talk. Living up to that ideal, though, isn’t simple at all. It takes a concerted effort to get everyone tuned in and turned on to the principles and practices that align the “do” with the “say.”
One revealing way to test if an organization is living the brand is to observe how they deal with customer complaints. I recently had an experience with a new service I subscribed to online that told me a lot in a hurry about what they believe and how they operate.
Within an hour after subscribing, I got a notice that the first program would be broadcast that same evening. They described the event and what the participants would learn during the one-hour session. I didn’t want to miss it, but I already had another meeting scheduled. Reluctantly, I contacted that person and asked if we could reschedule for the following evening. She agreed, so I was set to take part in the new program.
I decided to share one of my Inside Out lessons with them in the form of a “strongly worded” e-letter to what I thought was some nebulous person in the ether-world. To my amazement, I got a reply the next morning from a sales manager named James, expressing regret for my problem and promising to look into it. Later that day I had my next pleasant surprise. I got a real live phone call from James explaining how I had been connected to the wrong program. He also thanked me for informing them because they were able to contact other people who experienced the same problem. Then he said I would be set up in the near future to participate in the program that had been advertised.
That would’ve been good enough, but then I got a call from David, their head of marketing. He had received my e-letter, too, and he also wanted to apologize for what happened. Then he really floored me – he said he wanted to give me a FREE lifetime subscription to their service. The only thing he asked in return was for me to give him occasional feedback on how I felt the service was meeting their customers’ needs.
I told him I thought his offer was very generous but I probably over-reacted a bit in my note, and his compensation was way more than I expected. To his credit, he would have nothing of my attempt to downplay my initial disappointment, and he apologized again for “wasting my time” and failing to give me what I was promised.
Execs in some companies might say he was crazy to give away so much. But I’m betting they don’t get many complaints like mine, and when they do, few people raise a fuss because the service is probably impeccable most of the time. Since it’s an online program, it’s not really “costing” them anything to give it to me free, but it still speaks volumes about their commitment to delivering on their promises – and living their brand.
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