Delivering the Goods is Half the Battle

Building a premium brand should be the goal of every business and every person. When most people think of a “premium brand,” they think of a product, service or individual that delivers exceptionally high quality at a good value. All too many people think building a premium brand stops there. But that’s not all there is to it.

To illustrate exactly what I mean, let me use the recent experience a colleague had with his premium brand flat screen LCD TV as an example of how the brand image of even the highest quality product can be damaged by inferior follow-up.

My colleague paid a large sum of money to purchase an LCD TV from one of the most well-known and respected manufacturers in the marketplace at the beginning of this year. He even had several relatives give him gift cards to a leading consumer electronics retail chain for Christmas in order to help defray the cost. The TV worked perfectly for about eight months, until one day it mysteriously went on the fritz. After carefully checking the cable connection, electrical outlet, remote control, etc. for problems and finding none, he called the manufacturer’s help line, as the TV was still under one-year factory warranty.

Following a rather lengthy wait on hold, my colleague finally spoke with a customer service representative, who efficiently if dispassionately ran him through a series of remote diagnostic tests that neither discovered nor solved the root of the problem. After being put on hold for another several minutes, my colleague was informed that because his TV was smaller than 42 inches, he would be ineligible for a home visit from a technician and instead would have to schlep the TV to the nearest approved warranty repair center. This happened to be a mom-and-pop TV repair shop located about 40 minutes from his house. To add insult to injury, mom and pop did not offer weekend or evening hours, meaning he would have to take time off work to both bring the TV in for repairs and then pick it up!

Apparently the TV gods were playing some sort of cosmic joke on my colleague, because after being left unplugged overnight, his TV mysteriously started working again. But the damage to this premium brand had already been done. Not because the TV broke down, which unfortunately can happen at any time with even the best electronic devices. But because once the goods were delivered, the manufacturer essentially wrote him off.

To truly build a premium brand, you need to offer premium follow-up. Customer service does not end after the customer pays the bill! Even if a customer or client has an issue months or years later, you need to offer fast, courteous service and make every effort to resolve the issue at your own inconvenience, not the customer’s. This type of follow-up shows you truly stand by your brand and distinguishes the merely good brands from the great ones.

In addition to offering high-quality goods, premium retail brands like Nordstrom and L.L. Bean further justify the admittedly high prices they charge with extremely generous and convenient return policies. Use them as your guidepost for your customer follow-up policies, not manufacturers of expensive TVs who provide a quality brand experience until something breaks down.

Have you ever experienced poor customer service follow-up that damaged your perception of a brand? Share your story!