Bad_Customer_touchpoint_derails_brandIf there’s one thing you don’t want your customers doing is getting ticked off every time they hear your ad. This happens to a brand I am a customer of and have generally positive feelings about. But because of one minor policy of their’s, every time I hear one of their ads, it triggers the F.U. button in my head. I can’t help it. One touchpoint is so out of line with their marketing efforts that it makes the whole brand seem disingenuous in my mind.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Not to pick on them, but the brand is Huntington Bank. I have a secondary savings account there and think overall they are a good bank. The’re long-running campaign makes fun of the bad customer policies most “big banks” have and touts how Huntington treats there customers better. They talk about 24-hour forgiveness that gives you a grace period to add money to your account should you be over drawn. They talk about how, unlike the big banks, you can make deposits up to midnight through a multitude of ways and still have the deposit count for that day. Every spot contrasts how crappy the big banks treat you with how well Huntington does. It’s a good campaign. And a good customer-centric promise. Except in one case.

ATM-Raising-FeesSeveral months ago, I discovered some charges on my monthly statement I couldn’t figure out. So, I took it into my local branch and discovered that every time I use an ATM that’s not one of their’s, not only am I paying that ATM’s fee, which I agree to on the spot, but Huntington is charging me an additional $3 on their end of the transaction. So now that cash on the go is costing me $6 instead of 3, doubling my fees. No other bank I’ve had, including “big banks” has ever done this to me. I don’t know if the double charge or the fact that I didn’t know about it ticked me off more.

Granted, it’s a small amount. but it’s enough that for months now, every time I hear one of their commercials telling me how much better they treat the small consumer – the automatic response in my head is, “yeah, right. F. U.” Every single time. And I don’t expect that to go away soon. That’s not good. it derails the whole brand image and marketing campaign. Sure, it accomplished what they probably wanted – it makes me wait or go out of my way to use one of their ATMs, when possible. But that only further puts the negative brand image in my head every time I do that instead using a convenient ATM.

customer_touchpointsThis goes to show you the importance of making sure your brand is consistent at every customer touchpoint. You only have to be out of line in one of them to taint the whole brand. This is just one instance of how one policy can derail all your efforts. Now, I still have an account there. I still value many things about the brand and have an overall positive feeling about them. But I can’t seem to shake this one nagging inconsistency in their brand narrative. It eats away their position in my mind space every time I hear one of their ads – which is the opposite effect they’re going for here.

The lesson is to review your policies at every customer touchpoint. Do a cost/benefit analysis of each. Does the monetary value outweigh the loss of brand equity? Sometimes, it will. But, when that’s the case, what can you do to mitigate the cost of lost brand value? What messaging can you create to turn a negative into a positive. In today’s overly connected, transparent brand world, it’s imperative that you get it right. Or someone like me is going to point it out.

Where have you seen customer touchpoints that don’t live up to the brand promise? What do you think could be done to fix them? I’d love to hear your own personal examples. Just leave me a note in the comments.

Mike-McClureMike McClure, trying not to be a hater

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