A friend of mine took his family to Virginia Beach for the weekend. They stayed at the stately old grand resort where the wealthy once frolicked, before they all owned beach homes of their own.
On the first evening, on a brick sidewalk in need of repair, just outside the main building, his teenage daughter tripped in the hole where a brick or two were supposed to be, and broke her foot. Her weekend, and the family’s, was ruined. (Not to mention the daughter’s entire summer vacation.)
If the resort manager were a smart marketer, how would he or she handle this situation?
Here’s what you wouldn’t do.
You wouldn’t be casual about the family’s plight.
You wouldn’t just assume they could navigate the byzantine insurance process without assistance.
You wouldn’t neglect to offer to comp them on a dinner… the room… an ensuing weekend or week… or anything.
You wouldn’t treat them as if their accident was just their problem.
What you would do
You would take the situation as an opportunity to enhance your image.
You would make a fuss over the young woman and her parents.
You would upgrade them to a bigger, more luxurious room where the young patient might be more comfortable, since her beach time was shot.
You would rip up their bill and invite them to a comp dinner at one of the resort’s five restaurants.
You would take responsibility for the broken sidewalk, and order it repaired just as soon as you could get workers on the job.
You would turn a bad situation into a good one. You would make loyal fans for life, one way or the other, and turn them into ambassadors for your brand.
Unfortunately, that’s not what the resort chose to do.
Thanks to the Internet (my friend is a social networking genius), everyone in the state of Virginia who’s thinking of a beach vacation will eventually find out what little regard the resort has for its guests.
You might call it “anti-marketing.”
Today more than any time since the advent of mass media, customer experience is king. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. That’s why the concept of “brand” continues to grow in influence. Your brand, as Marty Neumeier tells us in The Brand Gap, is what people think of you, not what you tell them it is.
You can tell people all day about your wonderful product and service. When they find that the experience doesn’t match the hype, your brand is done — no matter how many gallon of paint went into your renovation.
In 1929, Adolph Coors leapt to his death from a window at this hotel. Was it the impending market crash? Or just bad service?