The $15 branding blunder

Posted on: September 29th, 2016

It spread through social media faster than a bushfire on a windy day. One bad customer experience resulted in a social media onslaught that has literally seen the overnight tumbling of a hairdressing franchise.

Kerrie Davies, editor of the Nepean News, was furious after being treated like a criminal at a local salon where she went to get her hair blow dried. She took to social media to vent her frustrations, not realising that her post would go viral. In fact it was shared over 22,666, had 54,324 reactions and 14,258 comments, getting her story onto the news, in the newspaper, magazines and radio.

So what caused all of this fuss? To put it in a nutshell, it was bad customer service! Customer service that has resulted in the offending salon and head office removing their social media pages as the country – in fact the world, voiced their dislike for how they treated their client.

The drama all started when Kerrie realised at the time of paying that she had left her wallet in another handbag which was at home – we’ve all been there! Kerrie had $15 tucked away in the bag she had but was still $15 short. Read what went down…

Bad customer service results in massive brand damage

Brand experience is one of the most critical components of your business as this is what creates a memory for the client. Sadly for Blondes and Brunettes, this bad brand experience has not only reminded past clients of their bad experiences but has also left a bad taste in everyones mouth about the possible service that they will receive if they go to their salons.

I think that we can all quite clearly see what went wrong, but I’d like to take a look at how they could have managed the situation better which could have resulted in a far more pleasant outcome. Let’s take Drew the security guard for example. Not only did he defuse the situation, but he managed it in such a way that he became the hero. From what I have heard, this is just how Drew operates. He is a problem solver, a thinker and an all round good guy. He probably didn’t think twice about handing over his own $15 to defuse the situation, and certainly wouldn’t have thought that his simple act of kindness and common sense would result in him being one of the most hailed security guards in Australia!

How to manage brand expectations with customer service


1. Systems are good but common sense is better

It’s great to have systems in place as this ensures that the brand experience the you give is consistent no matter which staff member is delivering it. However, if the system is not a good one, then it needs to change. In this case the staff had been told not to allow anyone to leave their store if they have not paid. Fair enough. However it is illegal to hold someone against their will, and if they are trying to provide a solution to paying their bill you should accommodate it. In this particular case, I am sure that the bag and phone that she was prepared to leave were both worth way more than the $15 owed. The manager should have weighed up the odds and realised that for $15 it was worth the risk. I have no doubt that there is nothing in the security guards manual that suggests that they hand over their own money in such situations, but Drew was able to seize up the situation and realise that by paying the $15 himself, he can make a whole lot of pain (for everyone involved) go away.

2. Think like a customer

One of the core values that we have at White River Design is to think like a customer. How would you like to be treated? Then do that. No one would want to be held against their will, so if it’s not something you would like, then don’t do it to your clients. Now don’t get me wrong – there are some customers that are underhanded and constantly thinking of ways to get free work out of you – don’t think like those customers. Think like your good clients, the ones that give you repeat work, sing your praises and pay on time – and if they can’t, they will communicate this with you and come up with a payment plan. Drew is a great example of this. He could see how mortified Kerrie was, and realised that he wouldn’t want to feel like that, so with some quick thinking, he was able to change the outcome.

3. Trust your clients

I have been told that I am far too trusting. And yes, it has bitten me on the bum a number of times, however more often than not, it has worked in my favour to build further trust and respect with my clients. I understand that each case is unique, and in this situation I believe that the customer was desperately trying to come up with a solution. If she was going to do a runner, she would have done so before security arrived. If the manager had given her the opportunity to leave her bag and phone and return with the $15, not only would she have been paid, but she would have probably secured herself a long term client instead of the backlash that followed. Drew the security guard demonstrated complete trust in a stranger. He didn’t know Kerrie at all, but for $15 he was prepared to bet on the fact that she would pay him back – and he was right. We need more Drew’s in this world.

4. Be flexible

I can’t help but think that if the manager of this salon had been vaguely flexible, that between her and the client, they would have been able to come up with a solution to the problem. Being flexible does not mean giving in. It means that you are coming to a solution where both parties may have to meet half way, yet the outcome will be beneficial to both. Drew provided this flexibility. He simply handed over his own $15 with the request that when she had the money, that she simply hand it into the concierge. This was over and above what would be expected of him.

5. Be like Drew the security guard

I think that all brands can learn a lot from Drew the security guard. His quick thinking, ability to adapt and solve a problem while all the time being in control, is an amazing example to each of us running a business on how to react and behave in unusual situations. Drew has created a reputation for himself. Drew the security guard without even realising it, has his own personal brand. Go Drew!

If you would like to find out more about branding or how to develop a great brand experience, then you may be interested in our Brand Magic Masterclass online program.

What does your dress code say about you and your brand?

Posted on: August 31st, 2016

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to say that your clothing or style of dressing can tell people a lot about not just who you are, but also what you do, what your ambitions are, your religion or even how you like to spend your spare time.

Dress code uniformRead more »

Own your space and become an industry leader

Posted on: July 20th, 2016

What brands come to mind if I say:

– fast food
– safe car
– soda drink
– search engine

If you had answered, McDonalds, Volvo, Coke and Google, then you’re not alone.

These brands completely own their space. However it has taken decades (in some cases over a century), millions of dollars and one almighty plan to get there!

Owning your space or becoming an industry leader may sound like a pretty scary thing, and to most of us it seems impossible – especially if you are planning to complete with the likes of CocaCola or Nike. The reality is that unless you have a completely unique product or service, a huge budget, a water tight strategy and an incredible following and a will of steel, you’re unlikely to build a brand as big as these giants. So why am I then bothering to write this blog? Because there is another way to ‘own your area’.Read more »

How to create a tagline for your brand

Posted on: June 30th, 2016

A tagline is a catch phrase or slogan that is linked to a brand to help connect a particular message to a brand and assist with brand recognition. Creating a tagline for your business can be a very powerful way to cement your brand in the minds of your consumers.

Taglines fulfil an important role in branding as they allow consumers to quickly understand what a business is all about.

How to create a tagline

Read more »

Do you need a uniform for your brand?

Posted on: May 31st, 2016

Like it or not, how you dress has an impact on how people perceive your brand. Some brands choose to allow their staff to wear what they prefer, as long as they adhere to a company dress code, while other businesses require their staff to wear a uniform.Read more »

Brands leveraging off trends

Posted on: April 26th, 2016

The fast paced world that we live in is dominated by trends. What’s trending today will be passé tomorrow – I just need to look at my children to know that this is fact.

Being able to identify trends, will enable you to take advantage of consumer fads or industry developments. Whether they are social, environmental, political, economical or technological some trends can catapult an industry or destroy it.Read more »

How to build a brand with personality

Posted on: March 30th, 2016

Since humans could communicate, we have been telling stories. Stories that capture our attention, evoke emotion and connect us. Whether they are stories told around a camp-fire, passed down from father to son, fairytales or even passages from the Bible, stories are a big part of what makes us human. Having a good story makes the relaying of the message so much easier – just take a look at Rhonda and Ketut!

Rhonda and KetutRead more »

Gold nuggets on out of the box thinking

Posted on: February 9th, 2016

I am part of a tribe! A tribe of women who encourage, support and uplift each other. The group is called LBDG – Little Black Dress Group (Little Black Dress Group) and once a quarter, a number of us Platinum members get together for a day of learning and planning .

Apart from catching up with some beautiful friends who I haven’t seen for most of the summer, we were educated and entertained by the very enigmatic and effervescent Kieran Flanegan from the Impossible Institute. Aside from being wildly entertaining, Kieran has a mind like no other. She sees solutions where others see problems, and it’s no wonder that her and her business partner Dan, have built a name for themselves in the advertising industry. Here are a few gold nuggets that I learnt from Kieran.Read more »

I Know Victoria’s Secret

Posted on: January 28th, 2016

I have just returned from 10 blissful days in Hawaii and while it might sound like a jet setting kind of statement, I was actually there with my family courtesy of my very talented daughter. She was competing at an international gymnastics competition that was – to our delight – in Hawaii!

But I digress as I’m actually wanting to share with you a secret – Victoria’s Secret to be precise. America is a Mecca for big brand shopping and Waikiki is no exception.

After dinner one night I decided that I would brave the world famous luxury ladies under garment store – Victoria’s Secret. I must confess that I did go into a store while in New York a few years ago, but I was so overwhelmed by the displays and choices that I simply left with a bag of kissable lip gloss for myself and my team.

Brand experience and brand personalitiesRead more »

The Use of Sound in Branding

Posted on: December 14th, 2015

Sonic branding (using sound to connect to your brand) is one of the less obvious brand development techniques. The recognition of a tune or jingle associated with a brand can be a very powerful trigger.

Read more »

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