Castle co-founder Sandy Lish draws a line from customer service to brand values in this Two-Way Street blog post.
A few weeks ago, I ordered a replacement part for my GPS. This was a relatively simple online transaction, from a brand that is synonymous with the GPS industry. A week went by, then two, and I realized that my item hadn’t arrived. Checked my bank account, and sure enough, the account had been charged the day after I placed my order. So I called the company, which required some heavy digging online as the phone number was somewhat buried. The customer service person looked up my order, looked at the shipping information in her record, and let me know that she had no idea where my item was, although it had been shipped two weeks ago. I asked her to look a little harder and figure out what was going on. The best she could tell me was that it was somewhere en route, and to check back in a few days if it still had not arrived.
As this was not the highest priority in my life, I decided to just give it a couple of days. Then it struck me: there’s significant irony in the fact that I bought a GPS item that the GPS company itself cannot even find. In a conversation a few days later with a client, we were talking about online shopping and I relayed this story. She immediately said, “They’re not delivering on their brand promise!”
Branding, as we know, is about much more than images and marketing materials. It carries through to the customer experience, which in this case completely contradicted the company’s brand promise. If your message is about positioning and tracking, it is unacceptable to ship a package you cannot locate.
A few phone calls and days later, I received a link to track my package, which said it should arrive three-to-five business days after leaving the warehouse (which it had done more than two weeks earlier). That ship had sailed. It had literally been in my town two weeks prior, then left and traveled to a variety of states, where it evidently kept being “missent.”
By the way, the package finally came over the weekend. My husband laughingly pointed out the sticker on the outside: “Fast Ship.”
I will never buy another item from this company. The brand itself may be spiffy, the product may be highly rated by consumers, but if they can’t deliver—literally or figuratively—they’ve lost me.