There is a tendency to rely heavily on a brand.  Once established it will drive traffic, generate leads, establish and communicate identity, and create customers and hopefully advocates.

Your brand serves you.

You must also serve your brand.  Deliver on its promise, exceed expectations when possible, be a constant model of it.  Disappointing a customer is failing your brand.  Your relationship with your brand must be synergistic.  Serve your brand well and it will not let your down.

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Dilbert.com

Imagine customer satisfaction being deemed unprofitable — think paying for checked airline bags, long lines, on hold, unresolved service issues, disappointing product or service — where is the tipping point?

I often speak about the disconnect between marketing and the customer experience.  As marketers we’ll spend hours choosing the right photograph, at the right angle, in the right light, with the right models, the right font, the right words, right layout so the brochure or ad embodies absolute perfection.  We must honestly ask ourselves if that picture of perfection is translated into the actual experience.  If we operate a facility does it look like it’s “photo shoot” ready every single day or only when the photographer is scheduled?  Does the customer experience reflect the model?  Do we market for our satisfaction or that of our customers?

Here is a great post on advertising vs. reality by 9GAG: Link

Everything we do is marketing: from our handshake at a networking event, our behavior at a conference, how we treat our employees (past and current), how we treat our customers (past and current), to our flashy ads and promos all the way through to the ultimate moments of truth — when the customer, client, donor or member is completing a transaction and well beyond into the continuum of serving.

Interestingly, as consumers we tend to demand far more than we are willing to deliver in our own organizations.  Should a golden rule of service be written or does it already exist?  How are we treating others?

Thoughts?

My journey home.

I was raised in the small town of Bellingham, Massachusetts (not to be confused with the large town of Bellingham, Washington).  When my parents moved us there it was a town of 4,237 and is now a booming metropolis of 4,530.  For over a decade my Dad owned one of only two drugstores in the town — long before Ritalin, Viagra and Prozac were prescribed like Pez candy.  He also differentiated himself by offering free prescription delivery (imagine that).  Having half the town know your Dad certainly had its perks, but it also had its drawbacks — I had to obey EVERY traffic law and NEVER be at “that party” (really paid to have friends in North Smithfield).  Sadly my Dad died in 1994 after a two year battle, make that an all out war, with cancer.

It takes a lot for me to head back home, my statement in jest is that it takes a wedding or a funeral.  I am not sure why.  I love catching up with family and there are certainly enough weeks of nice weather to squeeze in a visit without rain, clouds or ice.  I’m a lifelong Boston sports fan and can’t get enough of watching the Red Sox (this season not so much).  I guess there are other places in the country my wife and I have really fallen in love with and even more we hope to visit, so our limited vacation time is precious.  Also, it would be a heck of a lot cheaper for us to fly my Mom out for a “granddaughter fix” than it would be to fly the four of us (especially with my 8 year old demanding she fly first class and not “last class”).

This visit was for the 25th reunion of my high school graduation class.  I graduated from Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  Rather than fly in and out for the weekend, I actually stayed a week.  It was wonderful to disconnect, decompress, unwind and reconnect.  The reunion was fantastic.  Interesting how after the 25 years, the cliques, acne, and braces seem to have faded away with our angst and anxieties (well at least for the majority of us).

I am so impressed with our class — all achievers and overachievers, we could have launched several class action lawsuits, led a hostile corporate takeover, sold the reunion venue, bought the reunion venue, got a candidate elected, written the next great American novels,  and conducted surgery with the talent at our reunion (and made it all one big nonprofit).  This class that once locked arms and sang We Are The World (the real version) 25 years ago are in positions that change it each and every day.

25 years is a long time, yet it seemed just long enough for me.  Many of us started at “Mount” in the 7th grade — we may have bloomed together, however we blossomed when we were apart.  Time has made me appreciate our connection even more.  The word “reunion” certainly fits, as I feel reunited.

Sometimes you just don’t know the right time to head home.  This trip certainly was the right time.

Family Home

Formerly Dad's Store

Mount Saint Charles Academy

Great Dunkin Donuts on King Street (free WiFi)

RIP Dad (p.s. Sox won Series...twice)

Class of '85