brand delight

Given that it’s a holiday today, I’m going to take a break from the series on brands that have failed to live up to their potential — and instead, I wanted to relay a recent experience I had with a company (and lessons learned) whose service not only lived up to its brand potential, but actually exceeded my expectations.  So today, instead of a brand disappointment, you’re getting a brand delight!

TLC Plumbing Inc. is a local plumbing company which I found on Angie’s List.  Their motto is “Expert Plumbing by People Who Really Care.” I know, I know, that sounds like every other service providers’ motto — but the company actually delivered “Expert Plumbing by People Who Really Care” and that’s what makes it so remarkable.  Here’s what I experienced:

I’ll spare you the details of my plumbing event that led me to scheduling an appointment with TLC and just pick up the story when the plumber came to my house and managed to fix my problem in less than 30 seconds. I half expected to have to pay for the full service fee that I was quoted over the phone but the plumber instead offered to do a quick estimate for a whole-house flushing (or whatever he called it) — he explained it is something he highly recommends for a house as old as mine (built in 1914) and by providing the estimate, he could charge me a very minimal fee instead of the original estimate.

To me, that — along with details like him showing up exactly at the time they said he would, bringing his own towels and booties to use so he wouldn’t dirty my house in any way, and doing a follow-up call after his visit — demonstrated the “People Who Really Care” part of the TLC brand.

Given that the plumber did indeed fix my problem, I suppose that would have been enough to demonstrate the “Expert Plumbing” part of their brand — but the company actually went a step further.  A week after his visit, I received a follow-up letter (yes, in addition to the follow-up call I had gotten — all on a service call that they clearly had lost money on).

In addition to thanking me for my business and giving me a bounce back coupon, the letter outlined some great plumbing tips (e.g., “always run cold water when grinding your food disposal — hot water should not be used because it can dissolve fats and grease which may then accumulate in the drain line.”)  How great is that?!  In such a seemingly small way, TLC Plumbing demonstrated their expertise in plumbing in way that increased their credibility with me — and the likelihood that I will call on them for all my future plumbing needs and tell all my friends.

I realize it may seem like I’m making a big deal out of a small occurrence, but I felt the experience contains some valuable, yet very basic, lessons for all companies:

  • deliver on your brand — don’t just say you’re about “Expert Plumbing by People Who Really Care” — do “Expert Plumbing by People Who Really Care”
  • use added-value content to add value — providing tips or recommended resources or white papers or whatever is a way that many companies of all sizes, types, and industries could deliver more value to their customers easily and cheaply
  • start with serving customers well; word of mouth will follow — it seems so many companies are fixated on utilizing the newly-found brand-building power of social media that they start there — instead of trying to figure out how to ignite a word of mouth campaign, perhaps companies should focus on delivering their brand value — if they do that, word of mouth will surely follow (after all, I am writing this post, right?!)

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