Minding Your Own Brand: Do You Really Value My Opinion?

I have been unhappy with my “big bank.” My main criticism of this bank is that despite their advertising campaigns that say that they are not a big, uncaring bank, over the past few years they have grown to a point where they treat their customers more like a number than a person. They no longer provide the personal service they once did and now do not consistently live up to their marketing promises. Therefore, when I received an email with the subject line “We value your opinion,” I expected this to be a way for me to communicate my recent frustrations and provide them with some constructive feedback. You can understand my disappointment when I clicked the survey link and a page came up which simply read “This survey is closed.” I felt as if the bank said, “Well Dave, we value some opinions but NOT YOURS.”


I tracked down and called the person who had sent me the email to give him my perceptions. He quickly dismissed me, saying he had gotten the 200 responses he needed. So I asked him why the email didn’t say how long the survey would be open, or why the link didn’t say something like “Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately the survey is now closed. If you would like to contact us with any important comments, please call or email us at….” I told him that his message really was “We value the first 200 opinions, and then we don’t care.” His response was that if I “really wanted to take the survey” he could make that happen. He had missed my point, and made me feel even less important.


This is a perfect example of how companies can set up expectations that ultimately lead their customers to frustration. A brand is reflected in everything a company says and does.  Consequently, something as “insignificant” as this survey page can send a strong message about how an organization values its customers. That coupled with unfulfilled advertising promises can quickly turn a potential loyal advocate into an annoyed adversary who will spread the story of their unfulfilled expectations to anyone and everyone who will listen.


When delivering a brand message, the important factor is not what you say, but instead what matters is how they perceive it. Therefore, it is necessary for organizations to take a critical look at all aspects of their business and consider that every point of contact between their company and potential audiences is affecting the status of the brand.  Just stating that you provide personal service and value your customer relationships is not enough. Companies must understand the expectations that these statements are creating and use that information to build an organization that provides experiences that strengthen a customer’s relationship with the brand and does not erode it.


As a small business, if you provide your customers with consistent experiences that go beyond the expectations you create with your marketing promises, you will be able to recruit loyal advocates. However, this means that you must actually listen to what your customers have to say. Building a successful brand means building a lasting relationship with people who become your advocates. One way is to give them the proper tools to provide you with valuable feedback about your company. This will allow you to make changes in your business and offer customer experiences that create a positive brand perception.


So with that in mind, I ask you, do you really value your customer’s opinion? Have you given them the proper tools to provide you with this valuable feedback? Are you actually listening to what they have to say?

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