Brands are big and actually have an accounting existence through “goodwill”, which reflects the additional perceived values of a company beyond its asset value at the time of sale. While many people consider Brand to be “name recognition”, it can also encompasses infrastructure, reputation (which arguably could be part of name recognition), and other market factors.
One thing that Brand cannot overcome, at least on an individualized basis, is poor customer service. Recent studies by Harris Interactive report that 87% of customers with a bad experience have stopped doing business with a company after a bad experience; this is up from 80% in 2007 and 67% in 2006. Studies have shown that consumer repeat bad experiences more than good experiences to other friends and peers. The Harris report also asserts that 22% of consumers, up from 13% in 2007, have posted negative feedback about a company online.
As the economy and sales get tougher, consumer value loyalty from their vendor be it a retailer, service provider, or other organization.
As a marketer, I know this and have my own naughty list of sometimes trivial experiences which have caused companies to lose me as a client. While most have not cared, their shortsightedness regarding my “lifetime value” as a customer, and my sphere of influence, has cost their company dearly.
One example of a company I will no longer buy from is a leading chain of Vitamins and Health Supplements. I purchased a vanity gold card from them to receive discounts and other benefits for myself and family. During one of my visits, I purchased a store brand vitamin bottle and when opening it a few days later had discovered the bottle was either tampered with or had a manufacturing malfunction. Once I opened the lid, the inner seal was burnt brown and was not sealed.
I returned to the store and requested a swap-out and was refused! I did not request a refund, I had my “gold” card, but did not have a receipt for the obviously store branded merchandise. I spoke to a manger and was again refused a replacement or a refund – all because I did not have the receipt. I produced my gold card and my credit card which I used to purchase the product, and told them they could verify the purchase by either of the two and was still refused a replacement or refund. Their reasoning was that their retail system was insufficient and did not have that information.
Upon contacting the corporate office by email, where I provided photo’s of the product in question, I was again refused a refund, replacement, or any other compensation. After a lengthy series of communications, I was offered a coupon for a discount off of a future purchase, which was lower than my “gold” care discount.
At that moment the company lost a customer worth thousands of dollars per year, as I, my family, my son’s friends and everyone I ever speak to about vitamins, retail, customer service, and other topics get a negative report on this retailer. I’m guessing this defective product and defective customer service culture cost this retailer over $10,000 per year in the local stores selling area and more outside the local area, and I’m not done.
I’ll remember this experience for years. I don’t care what sale, offer, or promotion the store may have, the next time I visit will be at their bankruptcy closing sale, but only to browse.
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