Today on Momeo magazine, Carla Young wrote a genius post on how to get people to be incredibly enthusiastic about your brand. Ironically, I had spent last evening and most of the morning wrestling with customer service of a large brand - that I like! - that left me feeling much less than enthusiastic. The worst part of the experience was that I genuinely like the product, and wish I could recommend it to...well, anyone. But I can't. Because the company doesn't understand that it and I aren't friends.
So often in peer groups, there is one person who doesn't *quite* get that you and they are not really friends. You have to work with them, go to school with them, meet them at the club, but you don't really think of them as a "friend." Well, companies of America - you are that person.
Brands want *way* too much of my personal information. I can see giving you my phone number if I wanted to talk with you, but...I really don't. Ideally, if the product you sell works as it is supposed to, I never will. And if I do have to call you..I'll call you. Real friends don't make us register with a ton of irrelevant info, just to ask if we can get together. A real friend doesn't ask me my birthday or "express service code" every single time I call.
Brands make us repeat ourselves. If I had to give you all my info to get to talk to you, then you HAVE my info. Making me give you the same info over and over and over means you obviously have no idea who I am or why you should care. Friends know why they should care.
Brands want access to my Facebook account. You know, I have a lot of real friends on Social Media Profiles and not one of them has ever demanded access to my information. Real friends understand that.
Brands talk at me, but aren't willing to listen to me. If a friend and I sit down to lunch and the next hour I hear all about the person's drama, without getting a word in edgewise, I don't go out to lunch with that person anymore. Your brand sends me emails from DONOTREPLY@. Friends listen.
Brands ask us to buy into their wacky schemes. When someone comes to me with a great idea that's gonna be awesome, friend or no, I'm skeptical. But I have to listen to you go on and on about new colors/flavors/irrelevant features/overcomplicated contests for who knows what...and you never shut up. How nice you have a new whatever. Go tell someone who wants to buy shares in a gold mine.
Brands never friend us back. When I call a company, the fact that I'm a current owner or subscriber never seems to make the damnedest bit of difference. I get stuck on a long phone queue and disconnected "accidentally" multiple times. There's never a call back (although I have repeatedly given you my phone number.) What friend "accidentally" hangs up on someone without an apology? I have to follow/connect/like you to talk to you, but never get anything in return. No friend treats me that shabbily.
Brands lie to us. We want a product for a reasonable price, that works well, and good service. You tell us all the time that you can give it to us, but...you never do.
Companies, it's pretty obvious that to all of us that your brand and I are not really friends. Stop acting like we are.