Fast answer — which one are you more likely to cut some slack Apple or Microsoft? When you pick up the phone to call the customer care number, what is your state of mind if you know that someone from Apple is on the other end of the phone? Now try Microsoft. Try any wireless operator. That’s what I thought.
Here’s the thing, we do business with people we like. Period. Liking leads to trusting, it’s not the other way around. Jeffrey Gitomer has a nice sound bite on that. You may build credibility and show expertise, be believable, but in the end you don’t marry someone who is credible, you marry someone you like. The same happens when you deal with companies.
Companies spend millions to provide thought leadership, enhance their credibility with tons of proof points, print sell sheets, and glossy brochures — they would be much better off using those funds building reputation, which leads to respect. You approach and respond to someone you like in a very different way than you do to someone you don’t. In that case, you react.
You dial the 800-number for customer service and in your head you are already preparing for a fight. The thoughts and arguments that pop up are in defense of your argument, one minute longer on hold and you are ready to read them the book on what you think about their poor service.
Now go to a different place. You are calling a company whose brand you like so much that you’ve been telling many friends about it. You wear, or use their products proudly. What goes through your head? My educated guess is that it’s something entirely different. You are already cutting them some slack.
The tough deal Steve Jobs negotiated with AT&T is benefiting the huge (and often disliked) wireless provider. AT&T now looks better — because of the iPhone and the positive power of the Apple brand. That alone has given AT&T more brand rejuvenation and a better reputation than the acquisition of Cingular, especially after the company decided to throw away all that good brand capital by folding the hip image into the stodgy conglomerate.
A brand with a good reputation on its resume can get more doors open in the hearts and minds of its customers exactly like a person with a good work history. Are you putting your budgets where it counts? Are you building and maintaining a good reputation for your company and products brands?
Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent • Philadelphia, PA • www.conversationagent.com