Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
Most often, the posts on this blog speak to you, our readers, as brand builders – people who are involved in marketing for your organization in one way or another. That’s not likely to change either because one of the primary goals of this blog is to resource and facilitate our readers/clients in fulfilling your ministry and non-profit work.
But today, I’m going to take a bit of a different angle on this and speak to you all as brand holders as well (a.k.a. consumers, markets, audiences, clients, etc… of hundreds of thousands of brands). I do this because it’s always a good exercise for us to step back and think about how we, as consumers, respond to the brands that we interact with and then take those revelations and apply them to our work.
Last year, I tried to call my bank to discuss a question I had about my mortgage. The bank in question shall remain nameless, but needless to say, it was one of the major Canadian banks that had been reporting record profits in consecutive quarters.
In the process of trying to get to a person at the bank to discuss my question, I was hung up on 4 times. When I finally got a person, I explained my whole issue (which was admittedly a bit convoluted) and was routed to someone else who would have the information that I needed – except that they didn’t. So, I was routed to my local branch where I was, yet again, hung up on before getting a chance to talk to a person. I ended up having to physically go into the bank to get my question answered.
I’m not typically a big complainer with this kind of thing. In fact, I imagine that I could use to be a bit more assertive in these types of situations. But, this situation was so bad that my back got up and I got frustrated with the big, faceless corporation that was happy to take my money while simultaneously electing not to put any effort into serving me. So I took it upon myself to write the bank and complain about the fact that a company that is making money hand-over-fist wasn’t taking the time to make sure that it serviced the people whose backs their profits were being made off of. I never received a response.
Then this week, when I needed to address another issue relating to my mortgage, I ended up once again in a branch office to meet with a bank employee to discuss my question. Having chatted over my questions, the woman that was helping me indicated that my situation was a fairly unique one and as such she would need to call their credit center to get some clarification. Having picked up the phone and dialed into their credit center, she was promptly hung up on…twice.
As I sat there, I was reminded of the situation outlined above and it struck me at how easily I forget that the big, faceless corporation that caused me great frustration the year previous was filled with individual people that are just living their lives, trying to get their jobs done and getting hung up on in the same way that I am.
To be clear, this truth doesn’t excuse the bank from constantly striving to service its clients better (or at all). But it does bring some perspective to how we respond to these issues when we have them happen to us. As brand holders, are we forgiving and understanding enough? Do our responses to the companies and organizations that offend us, help them fix the problem or cause them to get their backs up?
And as brand-builders, let’s be ready to receive the feedback that our clients, donors and constituents submit. If they are angry, let’s keep in mind our own tendency to do the same thing and if they are helpful, then thank them for their submission and honor it by doing everything you can to implement a solution.