[caption id="attachment_1558" align="aligncenter" width="700" caption="Maintaining brand integrity through Customer Service"][/caption]
Customer Service is a high priority for us at Schemata Workshop. The architectural services we provide are the commodity that we have to sell. And our past experience has proven that our satisfied customers are the best marketing tool we could ever hope to have. So we work hard to do good work, communicate well, and cultivate a culture of customer satisfaction amongst our employees. That’s the only way to preserve and build brand integrity.
On a flight down to San Francisco last month, I purchased a Picnic Pack from the flight attendant. It included olives, almonds, hummus and some other tasty treats – tasty enough that I bought one on my return flight. Hungry, I tore open the package of almonds and popped one into my mouth. I reached in for another and to my surprise pulled out a white rubber gasket.
I looked around thinking “did that really happen?” and looked back at the rubber band in my hand. I was about to get the flight attendants attention to request a replacement, but quickly stopped myself. At that point, I wasn’t going to eat any more almonds, but more importantly, if I handed over the almonds, the company who produced it would never know of this incident. So I tucked the bag of almonds into a plastic bag in my purse and resumed eating the rest of my snack.
When I returned to the office, I wrote the company a letter explaining what had occurred. And more importantly explaining that as a small business owner who was committed to supporting American businesses, I wanted them to know so they could improve their quality control. I included the small packages of almonds and mailed it off without a second thought.
Fast forward 2 weeks.
I returned to office after lunch to find a large box next to my desk. The return label was from Madison’s Grand Avenue Chocolates in La Verne, CA. The company name rung a bell, but I couldn’t place it so I opened it. To my surprise, it was filled with 5 boxes of almonds from the company I’d written to.
In the well-composed letter accompanying the variety of raw and roasted almonds, the company owner apologized for the problem and offered appreciation for my support of their business. To make up for my inconvenience they were offering me a sampling of their almond line (which made me wonder if they had erred in sending me 5 boxes vs. 5 samples).
Nevertheless, the moral of this story is about building a brand. In this case, one bad customer experience could have resulted in a barely-grumpy customer who may stop to consider purchasing her next Picnic Pack. They could have written me off and said “oh well” or “oops, I hope that never happens again.”
Instead, their acknowledgement of the problem and simple attempt to remedy it has resulted in me blogging about their company -sharing their name with all of you. What better marketing can you get than that?
This is a lesson that I can directly relate to in our practice. Customer Service is a high priority for us at Schemata Workshop. Sound cheesy? Well, yeah, I can see why someone would think so. However, I will point out the obvious by stating that architects provide professional services. Most of us don’t have patrons that enable us to do self-glorifying projects. Thus, the architectural services we provide are the commodity (or widget or almonds) that we have to sell. And our past experience has proven that our satisfied customers are the best marketing tool we could ever hope to have. So we work hard to do good work, communicate well, and cultivate a culture of customer satisfaction amongst our employees. That’s the only way to preserve and build brand integrity.