Brands Are Us (too)


Yesterday I was talking with a member of the AT&T social media team and we had a giggle together about how uptight I can be as a customer while at the same time empathetic and understanding as a business person.

007 is not the only one with a license to kill, it seems. We take it, too.

Once we cross that threshold and we get our way by going into type-A behavior, we associate "getting your way" with raising your voice. Worse yet for brands and companies when we see others get their way while being uptight.

As many a recent brand crisis demonstrates, even though we live in a culture that is more open and tolerant, we are not making progress in more tolerance and openness–we are just changing those things that we are willing to be tolerant about. [see the professional commentary on the Chick-fil-A controversy by Gerald Braud]

We know how to complain effectively, yet for a variety of reasons we're willing to give ourselves a way out using all kinds of (fabricated to varying degrees) me-based evidence like:

  • had a long day and no time to deal with this
  • paying customer(without considering we might be using the wrong buy strategy and save a penny to waste a pound)
  • we know what we don't like, are ready to/complain about it publicly (I've been there as well), yet are not willing to offer specific feedback on making it a better experience (this is where I am now, though)

Designing the customer experience is science and art.

Complaints are symptoms, and they will lead organizations down the reactive path every single time. Only 2% of the population — or even less — bothers to say something, anything. Imagine when that something is said between grunts.

We take ourselves way too seriously these days. We chicken out because we see "brand" and don't see the people behind it.

Brand is a story and experience the business trades in flow and that is made of many experiences the people on both sides of the conversation have with each other. We are part of it. And this is our part of the reason why customer service in social is not fair.

And that brings me back to my conversation with the AT&T social media team. It's okay to be hard on the issues and soft on people. Why be someone's bad day? Give them a chance to help you.

Hard on issues, soft on people is a good motto.

This post may be monitored for quality thinking purposes.

Have a great Friday everyone.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.

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