On the way out the door...after a massive teeth cleaning, my dental hygienist shouted "don't forget to like us on facebook". The kid I knew at camp in the 70's, who used to wet his bed sent a nasty gram asking "why don't you follow me on twitter?" The local pharmacy keeps sending e-mails urging me to "join the conversation". Really? The conversation about what?...my prescriptions?, adult diapers?, penny candy? Everybody wants to connect these days, everybody wants to build an engaged and loyal social network. AspenSpin is fully ensconced in the world of BRAND LOYALTY. But what's the end game? Really?
Brand loyalty is a funny thing. AspenSpin is super loyal to some brands, and willing to throw others under the bus. Call me crazy, but we will lend support to the brands we actually use and like. We use social media to converse with, and even promote some brands who in our opinion have superior products and services and are totally relevant to us. Have you ever shopped at Nordstrom? They built their department store brand (since 1901) on superior customer service. The sales staff is so helpful and attentive that we actually feel guilty leaving the store without making a purchase. Sports Illustrated is another brand we love, we haven't missed an issue since 1968 and we're happy to "like" them on FB.
At the other end of the spectrum is AT&T.
We've been using AT&T as our cellular carrier since we scored our first cell phone in 1993. It was one of those Gordon Gekko type models with the handset the size of Oprah's head. For 18 years we've stayed loyal to AT&T despite living through oodles of dead zones, their terrible customer service, 3 or 4 regime changes and/or mergers. We've always paid our bill in full...mostly on time... for 212 months in a row. In exchange we get nothing. In fact...new customers get a better deal than us, a teaser rate if you will, to sign up.
AspenSpin is considering an upgrade of our mobile equipment. Since we are ski habbing in La Jolla, a brand new AT&T store is only a short traffic jam away. We threw on Sanucks, Mountain Khakis shorts, a TLFI tee-shirt, our Nike 6.0 trucker hat and Oakley shades , jumped in the Audi and hit the mall. With so many choices, A-Spin figured it would be a good idea to see and touch the phones before deciding on a new model. Handling the equipment is important to us. As an aside, we recently received a text message AND a voice mail AND an e-mail from AT&T reminding us that our bill was "almost" due. Thanks for the heads up, bro.
The newly remodeled AT&T corporate store in San Diego appeared to be state-of-the-art. It was large, open and inviting. No threshold resistance. The new phone options were voluminous, including i-phones. We were greeted at the entrance by a smiling, tablet wielding "manager" inviting us to add our name to the "guest list". He assured that the short wait to speak to a sales consultant was "only 15 or 20 minutes". Looking around, there was one other customer in the store, but two sales consultants were heading into the back room with their well deserved lunch of Rubios Fish Tacos and Coca Cola. The greeter was very friendly so we asked him, "hey, can I pay my bill in the store?" He replied "of course" he then went on to explain that there is "only" a $5 charge to do the transaction with a "real person" and that we had to "get on the list" in order to do that. He pointed out the automated payment kisok and assured me that paying with the kiosk was "free". He added that AT&T is "trying to train our customers to use our automated system". Awesome...a training session compliments of AT&T.
A quick recap. we've been an AT&T cellular customer for 18 years and we always pay the bill on time. We've put up with their organizational inefficiancies, their growing pains, their spotty service and dropped calls. In exchange for that loyalty, we get to wait "15 or 20 minutes" to talk to a salesman, we get to pay a higher fee than "new customers" and as an added bonus get charged a $5 premium to pay our bill in person. WOW.
As we walked out the door towards the Verizon store in the same mall, the greeter gave us a friendly reminder; "be sure to Like us on Facebook".