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Being Sorry: Branding boo-boos

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Don’t you hate it when that happens?!? In any business, there are times when things go awry. You forget to follow up with a customer request. You choose the wrong automated phone answering system and it drives customers away. You put out a promotional offer that was clear to you, but is confusing to customers. It happens.

When you look at things with insider eyes—from inside the business—you may be blind to the customer’s experience. That contributes to branding boo-boos. How you react to a client’s bad experience can make or break your brand.

As a simple example, I ordered some reading glasses online from a company I’ve purchased from long ago. (I remembered the name because the product and service were excellent.) When I entered the discount promo code at checkout, I was surprised it showed “invalid.” I emailed customer service and provided details. Their response was that even though I had ordered reading glasses, the promo (which clearly said it was on “reading and sunglasses”) was actually on sunglasses that contained reading lenses. That little “and” gave it an entirely different meaning to me, the customer.

So, here’s where we reach the “Y” in the branding road: she could have said, “Oh, I can see how that would be misinterpreted. I’ll go ahead and give you the discount. We’ll edit the offer to make it clear.” But, sadly, she did not. She dug her heels into the quicksand of bad branding and missed an opportunity to build her brand. It’s a little thing, but it means I’ll shop elsewhere.

It’s usually the little things, often over time, that make or break a brand. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to admit it. Take the opportunity to turn a mistake into a positive by being sorry and making it right.

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Expectation Station: Anticipating needs

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