Your brand is much more a function of what you do than what you say about yourself. And there’s no more powerful way to affect your brand–either positively or negatively–than through your customer service.
I’ve been driving my Audi A4 Cabriolet–very happily–for seven years. When I bought the car, the dealer–The Audi Exchange in Highland Park, IL–asked if I wanted my license plates on the front and back or just the back. I hadn’t realized that the latter option even existed, but they pointed out that front plates weren’t required in Illinois. As someone who generally prefers a very clean look, I took the “back only” option.
Unfortunately, at some point over the past several years, the city of Chicago–where I often go for both business and recreational reasons–started ticketing vehicles without front plates. But when I recently asked the Audi Exchange to install my front plates, I was initially told that the installation bracket that would be required would cost about $280. When I explained my situation to the service manager and pointed out that I wouldn’t have been charged for the bracket had I had the front plates installed when I bought the car, he smiled and said, “That’s a fair point. Okay, the brackets are on us.”
That was it. No haggling. No complaining that I’d bought the car seven years ago. No running to the general manager for approval. He simply did the right thing and treated a customer fairly. In a perfect world, that wouldn’t be newsworthy, but in an age when so many companies fail to empower their employees to make decisions that will make customers feel truly valued, this experience was a very refreshing.
The result is that I’m more loyal than ever to Audi in general and The Audi Exchange in particular. In fact, I’m so loyal I might even write a blog post about it!