Can you be TOO friendly? (branding and authentic attitudes)

30-May-2018

Branding and authentic care has its place.

I got a call recently from my car breakdown people. I’d called them out recently so I assumed that this was a follow up. I don’t have a problem with follow-up calls in principle – feedback is always good, especially bad feedback. But as it turned out this was a sales call masquerading as a follow-up (so a slight ruse on their part really). To be fair, I don’t really have a massive problem with sales calls either: they may well be offering something that I could just need so, assuming I have the time, I like to keep an open mind.

In fact, I’d filled in their online questionnaire at the time of the breakdown, and with the exception of the time it took to get to me (2 and half hours!), I’d rated them as excellent throughout. So the reality of this calls must, logically, be purely sales. And it was.

I have a pretty good memory but the only problem here is that I can’t actually remember what the call was about now. All I can remember is the caller constantly referring to me as “mate”, “bud” or “sir”.

Now I know all good brands have guidance in terms of how they should speak. I’m guessing (and it is just a guess) that the above probably doesn’t really fit with that guidance. I mean it’s good to be approachable, it’s great to be friendly and a little familiarity can be quite useful but I can’t help thinking that this one was slightly overdone. I mean in a scenario where I really need them then I may put up with it and even think it’s a little quirky. But if the scenario is reversed then it’s irritating at best and downright annoying at worst.

Maybe I’m overreacting here but the reality is that odd or inconsistent behaviour will get talked about much more than good & consistent behaviour: it’s much more likely for someone to say “I spoke to X company’s customer services the other day – can’t get over how rude/arrogant/patronizing (delete as appropriate) they were….” than “I called Y company last week, what a nice bunch they are…”. Clearly that’s the case here as I’m writing about it!

What’s the lesson here?

A brand doesn’t want or need a bunch of robots at the other end of the line, speaking from a script – that’s as off-putting as my “mate” at the other end of my call. But what it does need is a consistent approach. Being friendly for example, is open to interpretation but it shouldn’t veer into over friendly. But regardless of your individual brand values, the most important approach is honesty. If my caller was honest & simply courteous (which is clearly the safer option) then I probably would have listened on. I might even remember what it was he was trying to sell me!

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