Small details. Big difference.
A brand’s relationships with consumers is often centred around a promise.
Harder, better, faster, stronger, longer, easier, tastier, happier. Every brand and product makes us a promise to us: Land Rover, a readiness for adventure; John Lewis offers us style, quality and a fair price; EasyJet is all about freedom to travel.
We all make our choices based on these promises.
So, when a brand breaks that promise through lack of performance or by not living up to the expectation, we are rightly entitled to spurn them.
This brings me to the tale of a small patch of dark pixels on my phone screen. Pretty quickly it became a bigger patch of dark pixels and so, like listening to a dripping tap late at night, I couldn’t ignore it any longer: the bullet would have to be bitten and I’d have to send it off to mobile phone hospital.
A rather annoying inconvenience because, like most people these days, I probably rely a little too much on my smartphone to keep me up-to-date with appointments, email, F1 lap times, Charlie Brooker’s rants and other things of absolutely huge importance.
This brand had failed in the most basic promise in the tech world: “I’ll make it through the warranty period”.
So off it went, leaving me suitably peeved at the prospect of being sans-phone for a week - all made worse by the fact that this is the second problem in a year.
There’s nothing else for it: the phone maker, HTC, was going onto my black list. A place reserved for a very few not-so-special brands that I will never consider. Ever.
Come contract renewal time, Samsung, Sony, LG - even, dare I say it - Windows Phone could be on the menu (not all us creative types are Apple fanboys you know).
So after several happy years together, we were through. My mind was made up. Done.
And then it wasn’t.
The reconciliation began with an email letting me know that my phone had arrived at the repair centre. and that I could watch progress online through a snazzy little website. I wasn’t feeling quite so grumpy now.
A couple of days later, an even better message: the job was done and my phone would return home soon. Great, I was moving towards happiness now.
The next day, when the man from UPS arrived - now there’s a brand that knows about promises - something happened that turned it all around.
Instead of extracting my cargo from a hastily packed Jiffy bag, what I found was a rather nicely designed, branded case with the words “I’m back” printed on it. Intrigued and pleasantly surprised, I slid it open, to discover my phone snuggly cradled in a made-to-measure aperture.
It's not much, I know, but it was a little touch, a tiny detail that let me know that appropriate care had been taken to fix the problem, that acknowledged the inconvenience and every effort made to return the device to me in the best condition possible.
A broken promise had been reconciled by delivering against another: to solve the problem with speed, care and efficacy.
By applying some creative thinking with great communication, HTC got off my blacklist and landed back in favour - perhaps even more so than before the problem. Demonstrating how looking after small details, can make a big difference to your consumers.
And that, as the box says, is “quietly brilliant”.