Welcome to she said she said, our newly-named blog. Having totally opposite temperaments is peachy... until it isn't. After 20+ years as friends and partners, the non-peachy days are mostly behind us. We learn a lot from our differences. We'll share that here. (*If you geek out on these things, like us: Susan = ESTJ, Enneagram 8 / Jan = INFP, Enneagram 9)
DISCLAIMER: No animals were harmed in the making of this newsletter. But we do name names of companies with terrible (or stellar) customer service and reflect on how that makes us feel about their brand.
We have written a bit about this here, but the customer support with Quickbooks (owned by Intuit) is notoriously awful. It’s worse than awful, but I refuse to type the words that would describe it more accurately. So the backstory is that I had been trying to troubleshoot a specific Quickbooks issue for weeks (to no avail) AND had also been avoiding calling altogether. I finally gave in and placed a support call. After being on hold for over 20 minutes, I was connected with a representative. At first, I thought the connection was scrambled because I heard the very distinct sound of a rooster crowing — and not in the distance. This rooster was VERY nearby. Maybe in the same room. Already perturbed, and prepared for a less-than-pleasant overall experience, I interrupted the introductory “… my name is ______ with Quickbooks customer care to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking..”
“Wait, what?? Do I hear a ROOSTER CROWING??” “Yes, now to the matter at hand, can I verify your Quickbooks account email?”
[Rooster continues to crow multiple times. A rooster crowing, for those unfamiliar, is loud and shrill. That is the purpose of a rooster, I suppose.]
Then Jan started laughing. That turned into me trying-not-to-laugh-when-you-know-you-should-not-and-besides-I-was-still-quite-annoyed laughing. It was impossible to concentrate or hear anything. The rep continued asking questions as if nothing unusual was happening. When several kids started talking and laughing (at the rooster?), I was so distracted, I could hardly think. Finally, she asked me to hold… [cue annoying music] When the call resumed, the kids were quiet and the rooster sounded a bit more distant. I assume they all got banished to the back yard — WHERE THE ROOSTER SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE FIRST PLACE. P.S. The support issue was partially resolved.
Yep, I started laughing when I heard the rooster. He was ridiculously loud. But the poor Quickbooks rep just kept soldiering on, as if no one would notice the cock-a-doodle-dooing in the background. I avoid calling customer service like the plague. If I’m confused enough to need Customer Support, it means I have tried everything humanly possible and I am already feeling frustrated and desperate. Why would I subject myself to talking to a stranger who is following a script and will probably cut me off after I've listened to irritating messages for an hour? ("Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold. Would you be willing to participate in a survey at the end of the call?') I despise those calls. There are a couple of exceptions — I am always happy to talk with someone at Apple or GoDaddy, because they have the best customer service on the planet. (Actually, Lego might win that award; more about that below.) But, back to the rooster. I have no idea where the Quickbooks rep was located, but she was definitely working from home — like millions of us are doing these days. In fact, if you have talked to Susan or me in the past few months, it's quite likely our call was interrupted by a jackhammer (another story for another day). So I felt a lot of empathy for that poor woman. She was trying to do her job.(cock-a-doodle-doo) She was knowledgeable. (cock-a-doodle-doo) She remained patient and calm. (cock-a-doodle-doo) When she finally put the call on hold, I pictured her trying to manage several noisy kids… a persistent rooster… a months-long pandemic… and an irritated client… all at the same time. But when she resumed the call, there was no background noise and she was cool as a cucumber. Mad respect. In the end, she solved Susan’s problem — sort of. And, hopefully, she had the rooster for dinner. (No, I take that back. Sorry, rooster.)
SIDE NOTE: If you click the links for company names above, you'll notice something very interesting. It's very easy to find a phone number for support at Apple, GoDaddy, and Lego. Quickbooks and Intuit? Nope.
And here's the point.
Word was out about the company's terrible customer service, so Susan went into the call expecting a bad experience. The rooster just happened to be the last straw. The company actually has a good product, but that can't make up for a poor reputation. As Ran Segall states in his Brand Design Mastery course (highly recommended), branding is influenced by:
• Product quality • Customer support (ding ding ding) • Company policies and decisions • Marketing campaigns • Visual identity
We're giving serious thought to our own customer service and how clients perceive our brand. We're also thinking about our work as website and brand designers. As designers, we can't fix bad business or poorly run companies but we can affect the visual identity, messaging, marketing so that there is consistency with each touchpoint. If a company's website looks fabulous but their customer support is horrible, there is a disconnect and distrust.
"Branding is not what you say about you, it's what other people say about you. It's not the logo, the colors, the website — it's about the gut feeling that people have about your business, because brands are defined by individuals. Ultimately, a consumer/buyer/client makes decisions about your company when there is trust. Trust = reliability + delight." - MARTY NEUMEIER/RAN SEGALL
Did you catch that? Reliability + delight. Delight isn't a word in most business dictionaries. Reliability, sure. But delight???? Is that even possible? Read on.
Lego Customers Lose Millions of Pieces a Year. The Company's 4-Word Response Is the Best I've Ever Seen
I shared a story back in September about a man who discovered his very expensive Lego set was missing a bag of pieces. The company's response was so good I had to write about it. After I did, I received more than 1,000 emails from readers who shared stories of how they lost pieces and reached out to Lego. In every case, the story ended with some version of "Lego went out of its way to make it right and make it fun." Every single time. What started out to me as an interesting story about a fantastic response from a creative customer service rep quickly became something totally different. It was obvious Lego was doing something different — but also, and more importantly, it was doing something intentionally. If that's true, there's something that every business could learn. It turns out, Lego Group knows something about talking to its customers, and not just because it has a few creative employees. The company has built one of the best examples of a customer service organization I've seen. It turns out, as I discovered talking to people at the company, it all revolves around four words. READ THE ARTICLE
The Brand Gap is the world’s most-read book on branding. A SlideShare version has been viewed over 20 million times. View the slide deck free or download the PDF. Using the visual language of the boardroom, The Brand Gap presents the first unified theory of branding—a set of five disciplines that let companies bridge the gap between brand strategy and brand execution. If you already have a grasp of branding, you’ll find new inspiration here. If you don’t and wish you did, by the time you finish reading this book, you’ll suddenly “get it.”
If you use the wrong words to talk about your product, nobody will buy it. Marketers and business owners struggle to effectively connect with their customers, costing them and their companies millions in lost revenue. The StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their companies. Without a clear, distinct message, customers will not understand what you can do for them and are unwilling to engage, causing you to lose potential sales, opportunities for customer engagement, and much more.Nope.
P.S. from Susan
I'm a photography enthusiast. Recently I went shopping for a new camera. I did my research, read reviews and had a great experience with a brand that I loved. I was prepared to purchase a camera from that company. When I spoke with the owner of a large camera shop, he informed me that the company had been sold to new owners within the last year. "They care nothing about customer support — the camera itself is ok, but when you need help there is none. In fact, our store has pulled all of them from our shelves. In our eyes, if there isn't good customer support, there is no product." I didn't purchase a camera that day. In fact, I'm still shopping for the right one, but the information shared by the camera store owner stuck with me on so many levels — and definitely came to mind when writing on this topic.
Thanks for hanging in with us to the end of our first she said she said. Stay tuned for another real-life story next week. No idea what that will be, but life brings new lessons every day. Meanwhile, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us to ask questions or say hello — or click here and schedule a time to chat.