‘Branding’ the Call Often Backfires

Brand
In an effort to promote ‘the brand’, companies will sometimes ask their CSRs to utter a tag line in each phone call. Commonly this is done at the beginning or end of the phone call. While I applaud a companies efforts to differentiate and build their brand, these tag lines are often a source of customer irritation. The tag sounds robotic, forced, out of place and leaves the customer (who just wants their issue resolved) annoyed as they think "Oh pleeeease, just get on with it!"

For example, Radio Shack used to (maybe they still do – I don’t know, I stopped calling) have their employees answer the phone:

"Thank you for calling Radio Shack. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. My name is Tom. How can I help you?"

It was such a mouthful that the employee usually rushed through it so  quickly that it became a jumbled up mess. Instead of a warm, personal, inviting greeting, the customer received a long, confusing first impression. That’s not the way you want to start the customer interaction.

Other companies commonly insert a tag line into the close. While it may work conversationally on some calls, CSRs often find themselves forcing it into the conversation like a round peg in a square hole. Most often, the customer is left with an impression of a CSR awkwardly trying to fit an out-of-place tag line into the call. Instead of building the brand, you’re chipping away at it and sending customers away scratching their heads.

Front-end IVR or hold messages are a much more appropriate place to put these branding efforts. The branded line can be recorded so that it comes across positive and professional, and the customer isn’t left with a negative impression.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and velo_city

  4 comments for “‘Branding’ the Call Often Backfires

  1. David B
    September 9, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Not to mention that, by the time a caller reaches a CSR, they’ve probably heard the company brand a dozen times from the IVR anyways. They know who they’re calling. Wasting time reiterating that does exactly what you say it does – it damages the brand.

  2. September 10, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Well said Tom. Unfortunately, at times, marketing has too much say in the customer care experience. However, I always found it valuable to “brand value added services” in certain situations.
    For example, if a customer is calling to process a return but they are able to self service (24 hours a day)on the web, it may be an opportunity to brand the service.
    Again, the key is in the delivery.

  3. September 10, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    tom;
    You’re right on target here…that’s one reason why we don’t always use tag lines as a brand tactic. They’re a crutch that often gets in the way.
    It’s much more effective to use the brand language during any interaction, including a call into the call center. Authentic language that reflects the brand promise will go a long way toward pleasing a customer.
    -Mark

  4. September 20, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Let’s brand them, cowboys!

    Most call center agents are encouraged (required) to brand the call by including the name of the company in the opening and closing of the call. But others are expected to include the companys latest advertising tag line as well,…

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