Brand Lag – The Worst Customer Experience

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Thank you for your patience.

There is one person ahead of me at the deli counter. It takes close to twenty minutes to get a handful of slices of turkey. It’s a major chain. Everyone knows the deli counter. It’s notorious. It’s an inside joke that everyone is in on. And the only resolve is the somewhat airport like announcement from the employees working behind the deli counter to shout out, “thank you for your patience,” in that passive – aggressive tone that clearly shows a lack of thanks or care or baseline understanding that no customer on line is patient (or the fact that there is actually just one person in line – they are talking to me but acting like there is a hoard of hungry sandwich people). It might as well be, “we don’t care about your frustrations. This is how we do our jobs and nobody (including us) have any care about how much time this takes, because my job isn’t about moving fast and being efficient for you, it’s about simply being here.”

Performance tied to paycheck is a funny thing.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Most often, there are unintended consequences that make it not work. But there is an answer: the people behind the deli counter need to move as fast as the people restocking the shelves, those who work the cash and – most importantly – the customers. It’s about the overall pace and flow of the business (and that business includes the customers). If one area of the business is much slower than another (regardless of that department’s output) it creates a brand lag. If one area of the business isn’t moving at the pace of their consumers, it creates a brand lag. That brand lag then changes the overall brand experience. “It’s a great supermarket, but the deli counter is a place where time and space collapse into a Dante like circle of hell that has no exit time or knowing.” So, what exactly is the brand experience then?

Where does speed go to die in your business? Where is the brand lag?

Fast isn’t quality or performance, but it’s a good indicator of energy and excitement and respect for your customer. All work requires time and focus, but those that do this with an energy (and speed) that matches their consumer’s pace creates an ever-lasting impression. And that leaves a mark… a brand mark. When you’re great and fast, there’s a unique and powerful pace that unfolds. It’s becomes a truly unique position and proposition.

Don’t let your business become the deli counter. Do you even know which part of your business is the deli counter?

The other side, is that the rest of your team can (easily) become infected by the attitude, pace and output of the deli department. If the deli people can just bellow out a “thank you for your patience,” why should other employees have to restock or handle the checkout differently? This is a corporate cultural social disease. It is malignant and needs to be eradicated. This doesn’t mean firing the people working at the deli counter. It does mean figuring out a solution that keeps pace with the rest of the business, instead of the rest of the business suddenly sounding like a bunch of TSA agents asking you to remove all laptops and liquids, as if they are a recording that is being looped every three minutes.

What areas of your business sound like that looped recording?

How can you stop it? Kill it dead. Make it better. Get it aligned with how the rest of your business keeps flows. The main goal: Impresses your customers instead of depressing them.