William’s Words: When You Make a Brand Promise, You Set Expectations

William ArrudaWilliam’s Words
By William Arruda

A note from the Founder of Reach Personal Branding.

When you make a brand promise, you set expectations.

Once you tell people what your promise of value is, you need to deliver on it – every day, with everything you do. The louder your message, the stronger your actions must be to back it up.

I was reminded of this recently when I was heading to Massachusetts to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day. I was taking a train from Manhattan to New Haven, then, renting a car from Avis – the people who try harder.

The Avis at the New Haven train station closes at 4pm on Saturdays and my train was running late; I was due to arrive just about 4pm. So I called to let them know I would arrive a minute or two late. The Avis agent said, “We close the door at 4pm if you arrive even 30 seconds after that, you will not get your car.” I was shocked at this rude response but hoped to make it at 3:59. The train did arrive at 3:59 but by the time I got through the station and to the Avis location, the door was closed and lights were off.

I called Avis trying to get my car switched to the New Haven airport location or to otherwise resolve the issue. I had many conversations with many people (and spent at least a half an hour on hold). No one was able to help me or even feigned interest in the challenge. Rather than empathy, action and effort, I experienced complacency, disdain and inaction. I won’t share all the details, but each person I talked to was less helpful than the previous.

I take responsibility for arriving late, but when your brand promise is “we try harder,” my expectations were that they would make some effort to help me. On top of that, I am a ‘Preferred” customer because Reach spends a fair amount of money with Avis each year. But that didn’t seem to motivate anyone to try even a little bit. In the end, I took an Amtrak train to Providence and rented a car from Hertz. Mother’s Day was saved!

This incident just reminded me of how lethal violating your brand promise can be. Instead of thinking of “We try harder” when I hear the Avis, I now think “We don’t try at all.”

Are you delivering on your brand promise?

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One Response to “William’s Words: When You Make a Brand Promise, You Set Expectations”

  1. Ann Smith says:

    Hello William, I’m so sorry to hear about this incident. Please accept my sincerest apologies and know that we will make this right. Can you please send me an email to the address I listed with this comment? I would really appreciate it.

    Most Sincerely,

    Ann Smith
    Social Media Associate
    Avis Rent A Car System, LLC